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Heart Health Center

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Added Sugar in Diet Tied to Death Risk

Sugar can be 'hidden' in savory foods as well as desserts and soda, experts note


Other major sources of added sugar include cakes, pies, fruit drinks, candy, and ice cream and other dairy desserts, the researchers said.

Added sugar can even be found in foods most people would consider savory, such as salad dressing, bread and ketchup, Schmidt said. Another major offender is yogurt, which often comes with as much sugar as you'd find in candy.

Previous research has focused exclusively on the health effects of sugary beverages, Yang said. For the new study, the research team decided to look at how the total amount of added sugar in the American diet can affect the risk of heart-related death.

Recommendations for added sugar consumption vary, and there is no universally accepted threshold for unhealthy levels.

The Institute of Medicine recommends that added sugar make up less than 25 percent of total calories, the World Health Organization recommends less than 10 percent and the American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugars to less than 100 calories daily for women and 150 calories daily for men, according to background information included in the study.

The researchers used national health survey data to review consumption of added sugar. They found that added sugar made up an average of 14.9 percent of daily calories in the American diet from 2005 to 2010, down from 15.7 percent from 1988 to 1994 and 16.8 percent from 1999 to 2004.

Nearly three of four adults consumed 10 percent or more of their daily calories from added sugar, while about 10 percent of adults consumed a quarter or more of their calories from added sugar in the latest study years.

The researchers then compared data on sugar consumption with data on death from heart disease.

The risk of heart-related death increases 18 percent with the average American diet that receives about 15 percent of daily calories from added sugar, compared to diets containing little to no added sugar, the study authors found.

The risk is 38 percent higher for people who receive 17 percent to 21 percent of their calories from added sugar, and more than double for people who get more than 21 percent of their daily diet from added sugar, Yang said.

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