Be Smart About Sugar

At a glance

Added sugars are sugars and syrups put in food or drinks when they are processed or prepared. Americans consume too much added sugars, which can put their health at risk. CDC supports healthy nutrition through data collection, funding, and education.

An infographic that reads: one 12-oz can of regular soda contains about 10 tsp of added sugar.

The problem

Americans consume too much added sugar, which can put their health at risk. Federal recommendations are to consume less than 10% of total daily calories from added sugars.

On average each day, adult men consume 19 teaspoons of added sugars, and adult women consume 15 teaspoons of added sugars.

a graphic depiction of 3 in 5 Americans
3 in 5 Americans ages 2 and older consume more than the recommended amount of added sugars.

Main sources of added sugar


24% from sugary drinks, such as soft drinks, fruit drinks, sports, and energy drinks.
11% from coffee and tea that is sweetened before sale or added later.


19% from desserts and sweet snacks.
9% from candy and sugars.
7% from breakfast cereals and bars.

Did You Know?‎

For a person consuming 2,000 calories a day, one 12-ounce can of soda contains nearly the maximum amount of added sugar recommended in one day.

Consequences of too many sugary drinks

Consuming too many sugary drinks is associated with:

  • Weight gain and obesity
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Tooth decay


The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends no added sugars for children younger than 2. People 2 and older should keep added sugars to less than 10% of their total daily calories. For example, if an adult consumes 2,000 calories a day, no more than 200 calories should come from added sugars. Twelve teaspoons of sugar is about 200 calories.

Public health strategies to reduce added sugars

Where food and beverages are sold or served

Drawing of a building with a cafe sign.
Food Services Guidelines can improve the consumption of healthier foods and drinks.

Places where food and beverages are sold or served can improve the availability, promotion, and consumption of healthier foods and drinks. Examples of how to do this, following the Food Services Guidelines, are to:

  • Offer a variety of at least 3 fruit options daily, with no added sugars.
  • Provide free access to chilled drinking water.
  • Offer low-fat milk and fortified soy drinks with no added sugars.
  • Offer 100% juice with no added sugars.

Early Care and Education (ECE) settings

Drawing of a school house.
Caring for our Children Child Care Standards can support healthy eating and drinking habits.

ECE settings can support healthy eating and drinking habits in young children by following the Caring for Our Children Child Care Standards to:

Avoid high-sugar foods and sugary drinks, including candy, cake, cookies, sodas, fruit drinks, and sports and energy drinks.

Ensure access to drinking water and other healthier drinks in ECE programs, including:

  • Human milk and/or iron-fortified infant formula for infants 12 months and younger.
  • Unflavored whole milk for children 1 to 2.
  • Unflavored low-fat (1%) or fat-free milk for children 2 and older.
  • No more than 4–6 oz of 100% juice per day for children 1 to 6.

Help people rethink their drink

Water has zero calories. Replacing sugary drinks with unsweetened water can help reduce the amount of added sugars people drink.

Offer healthier drink options, including:

  • Unsweetened coffee or teas, sparkling water, seltzers, and sugar-free flavored waters.
  • Low-fat or fat-free milk and fortified soy beverages with no added sugars.
  • 100% fruit or vegetable juice.
Keep Reading: Rethink Your Drink

CDC supports healthy nutrition by:

Providing data on US consumption of added sugars to inform programs and policies.

Funding and supporting states and communities to implement nutrition standards that can help reduce intake of added sugars.

Providing resources and information to early care and education providers to help reduce high consumption of added sugars.

Educating the public by implementing mass communication and social media campaigns to reduce high consumption of added sugars, including those from sugary drinks.

Download the Be Sugar Smart fact sheet.

  • Added sugars are sugars and syrups put in food or drinks when they are processed or prepared. Soda and packaged cookies are examples of processed drinks or food. Putting sugar in tea is an example of a prepared drink. Added sugars contribute calories but no other nutritional value.