Get the Facts: Added Sugars

Cupcakes covered in frosting and sugar

Americans are eating and drinking too many added sugars, which can contribute to health problems such as weight gain and obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. To live healthier, longer lives, most Americans need to move more and eat better, including consuming fewer added sugars.

About added sugars

  • Added sugars include sucrose, dextrose, table sugar, syrups, honey, and sugars from concentrated fruit or vegetable juices.1
  • The leading sources pdf icon[PDF-30.6MB]external icon of added sugars in the US diet are sugar-sweetened beverages and desserts and sweet snacks. Examples of desserts and sweet snacks are cookies, brownies, cakes, pies, ice cream, frozen dairy desserts, doughnuts, sweet rolls, and pastries.2

Americans should limit their added sugars

  • The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020–2025 pdf icon[PDF-30.6MB]external icon recommends that
    • Americans 2 years and older keep their intake of added sugars to less than 10% of their total daily calories. For example, in a 2,000 calorie diet, no more than 200 calories should come from added sugars (about 12 teaspoons).
    • Children younger than 2 years should not be fed foods and beverages with added sugars at all.2
  • A leading health indicator for Healthy People 2030 is to “reduce consumption of added sugars by people aged 2 years and over.”3
Spoonful of sugar

Added sugars consumption in children and young adults

  • In 2017–2018, the average daily intake of added sugars was 17 teaspoons for children and young adults aged 2 to 19 years.4
    • By sex, the average intake was 18 teaspoons for boys and 15 teaspoons for girls.
    • By age and race/ethnicity:
      • Among 2- to 5-year-olds, the average intake was 13 teaspoons for non-Hispanic Black children, 12 teaspoons for non-Hispanic White children, 11 teaspoons for Hispanic children, and 7 teaspoons for non-Hispanic Asian children.
      • Among 6- to 11-year-olds, the average intake was 19 teaspoons for non-Hispanic Black children, 18 teaspoons for non-Hispanic White children, 16 teaspoons for Hispanic children, and 12 teaspoons for non-Hispanic Asian children.
      • Among 12- to 19-year-olds, the average intake was 20 teaspoons for non-Hispanic Black young people, 20 teaspoons for non-Hispanic White young people, 15 teaspoons for Hispanic young people and 14 teaspoons for non-Hispanic Asian young people.

Added sugars consumption in adults

  • In 2017–2018, the average intake of added sugars was 17 teaspoons for adults aged 20 and older.4
    • By sex, the average intake was 19 teaspoons for men and 15 teaspoons for women.
    • By race/ethnicity, the average intake of added sugars was 19 teaspoons for non-Hispanic Black adults, 17 teaspoons for non-Hispanic White adults, 16 teaspoons for Hispanic adults, and 10 teaspoons for non-Hispanic Asian adults.

Resources

References

  1. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. 2020. Scientific Report of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee: Advisory Report to the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of Health and Human Services pdf icon[PDF-6.89MB]external icon. US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Washington, DC.
  2. US Department of Agriculture and US Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. 9th Edition pdf icon[PDF-30.6MB]external icon. December 2020.
  3. US Department of Health and Human Services. Healthy People 2030 Objectivesexternal icon.
  4. US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 2020. Food Patterns Equivalents Intakes from Food: Mean Amounts Consumed per Individual, What We Eat in America, NHANES 2017-2018 pdf icon[PDF-731KB]external icon.