No BYH to Trump voters, you elected a bulldozer to our norms, institutions and very stability. and whatever happens...

Americans keep getting smarter about sugar


Justin Fox


Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Per-capita consumption of sugar and other caloric sweeteners was down in the U.S. in 2017 for the third straight year — and 13th out of the past 18. And this time, consumption of refined sugar, which had been rising over the past decade as consumers (and soft-drink makers) turned away from high-fructose corn sweeteners, fell as well.

The 2017 numbers, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture released a few weeks ago but haven't gotten much attention yet, aren't really big news in the sense that they overturn an established narrative. There had already been talk of a global "sugar glut" brought on by booming production in Asia, ebbing demand in developed countries, and slowing demand growth in emerging markets. It's also clear that the decline in overall sweetener use in the U.S. began a while ago (I've written about it before) and has actually slowed somewhat in recent years.

Still, it is continuing to decline, which strikes me as a great victory in this age of distrust of scientific knowledge and widespread sentiment that everything is getting worse. Added sugar, broadly defined (that is, including corn syrup and the lot), is probably bad for you in anything but quite small doses. Yes, there have been other foods described by experts as bad over the past 50 years (fat and eggs spring to mind) that have turned out not to be, but — while there do seem to be concerns that treating sugar in isolation is misleading — the evidence linking high sugar consumption to obesity and a range of other maladies is pretty overwhelming. And whaddya know: People have been responding by … eating less sugar.

Obviously it's not all the result of individuals reading or hearing about the health risks of sugar and choosing to forego it. A few cities have penalized sugar consumption with soft-drink taxes, while some food manufacturers have reformulated products to use less of the stuff. We may see many more such moves before 2020, when new Food and Drug Administration rules - delayed by the Trump administration but apparently given the go-ahead this year - require food labels to include information on added sugars.

Sugar consumption also varies by region and by socioeconomic group. The consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is highest in the South, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and is also higher among low-income Americans. On the other hand, a 2016 study found that the decline in sugar consumption since the early 2000s has crossed socioeconomic lines.

U.S. sugar consumption does still have an awfully long way to fall. As of 2013, according to the most recent data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the U.S. led the world in per-capita sugar consumption (Malta and Switzerland came in second and third). The American Heart Association's current recommended daily added sugar limit is 36 grams for men and 25 for women. The per-capita 2017 numbers reported by the USDA come out to almost 159 grams a day.

The agency does not actually monitor how much sugar we put in our bodies; it measures "estimated deliveries for domestic food and beverage use" and divides it by the population. But surveys in which people are asked about their sugar consumption show similar trends. Those trends are headed in the right direction, and let us for the moment just be thankful for that.

Justin Fox is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering business. He was the editorial director of Harvard Business Review and wrote for Time, Fortune and American Banker. He is the author of "The Myth of the Rational Market."



Humans of Greenville


Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

Op Ed

January 20, 2019

The Wall Street Journal

By now readers have heard that progressive luminary Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez supports a 70 percent top marginal tax rate, which she says will help finance a “green new deal.” Higher taxes on the rich is the stock socialist answer on how to pay for any project,…

January 20, 2019

The New York Times reports that in the days after President Donald Trump fired James B. Comey as FBI director, law enforcement officials became “so concerned by the president's behavior that they began investigating whether he had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests.…


January 20, 2019

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has written President Trump to suggest that he postpone his State of the Union address, citing her "security concerns" over the ability of the Secret Service and Department of Homeland Security to protect government officials during the shutdown.

With all due respect,…


January 20, 2019

It was an extraordinary year.

No, that’s not boosterism by two of ECU’s biggest fans. It was a truly amazing year.

No question, 2018 was colored by the departures of our athletics director, a football coach and a basketball coach, a lot of change in one year. Follow those departures…


January 20, 2019

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is driving President Trump nuts — a very short drive indeed — by doing something he simply cannot abide: She's stealing the spotlight.

She is also seizing the initiative in the trench warfare over Trump's government shutdown and his imaginary border wall,…

Eugene Robinson

January 19, 2019

“Drain the swamp!” was one of those memorable Donald Trump campaign promises that remains unfulfilled, much like “Mexico will pay for the wall!” and “Repeal and replace Obamacare!” with “something terrific.”

Unlike the latter two promises,…

Senate EPA Wheeler-1

January 19, 2019

As state superintendent of North Carolina’s public schools, I often hear from other leaders that standardized tests help hold students, teachers and schools accountable. Accountability is important for our schools but also for our leaders. The testing system that the education-industrial…

Mark Johnson

January 19, 2019

Imagine traveling from Raleigh to Charlotte in about 22 minutes; not by train, plane or car, but instead in a pod, transported through an almost friction-free tunnel. This concept is under experimentation right now, as nearly 1,000 learned last week at the N.C. Transportation Summit.

Sponsored by…


January 17, 2019

President Trump's political strategy is completely clear: use his persistent promotion of a border wall to energize his core supporters. His campaign manager, Brad Parscale, told Fox News that "border security" is the "No. 1 reason" those ardent advocates will vote to re-elect him. Trump himself…

Steve and Cokie Roberts

January 17, 2019

Since the Knights of Columbus recently became a political issue, I've seen a constant refrain on social media that goes something along the lines of: "What do you mean, the pancake breakfast guys?" The point being: Could you be picking on nicer guys? But the Knights' goodness goes far beyond…

324 stories in Op Ed. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 33
        Next Page»   Last Page»