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Natural Awakenings Tucson

Sugar Addiction: A Health Epidemic

In 1821, Americans ate about ten pounds of sugar per person, per year. Today the average American eats approximately 180 pounds of sugar per year. It is even more staggering to realize that, based on averages, if one person is not eating a full share, then someone else is making up the difference. This is not surprising when one considers the types of food found in the middle aisles of most grocery stores. These isles contain mostly foods labeled low fat and heart-healthy, but are actually loaded with sugar to make them more palatable. Also, most food stores place the worst sugar-laden junk and snack foods at the beginning of each aisle in a prominent position to increase their sales. 

In the late 1970s, the FDA created dietary guidelines that attempted to establish healthy standards for the U.S. public. The FDA’s main focus was reducing overall fat, sugar and salt consumption while increasing carbohydrate consumption.

As food industry giants began to reduce the amount of fat and cholesterol in foods, the grocery store shelves became filled with more products based on the amount of fat the consumer wanted to ingest, and in many cases, these foods were also nutrient depleted. To restore flavor to these foods, manufacturers simply added more sugar.  

As a result, many modern diseases have not only increased but also become epidemic. Rates of diabetes, heart disease and cancer have risen exponentially since the 1970s, and autoimmune disorders are also on the rise. 

Sugar is the obvious culprit. The American Heart Association recommends sugar intake be no more than 6 to 9 added teaspoons per adult per day. However, the actual average intake for adults in the United States is 22 added teaspoons per day, and for children, it is 32 added teaspoons per day! These staggering statistics tell a troubling story and beg the question: “What should be done about all the sugar Americans are ingesting?” The answer is complex but certainly could begin with personal choice, education and increased awareness.

Kariman Pierce, NTP, CGP is a Nutritional Therapist and owner of New Gratitude Nutrition. She teaches local and on-line RESTART sugar detoxification classes as well as offering one-on-one consultations. For more information, call 520-477-6204, email [email protected], or visit

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