Dangerous Trends in Sugar Consumption in the U.S. and the World
The trend toward drastically increased consumption of soft drinks and sugared fruit drinks since the end of World War II has contributed to a similar discouraging trend regarding the average diet in general: increased caloric intake, reduced complex carbohydrate, fiber, and vegetable intake, and corresponding increases in average body weight, fat mass, blood pressure and obesity.
This article utilized cross-country data analysis, based on global food disappearance data, to examine trends in caloric sweetener intake in the past four decades (1962-2000). A detailed representative sample of individual dietary intake data in the United States from 1977-1998 was also analyzed.
Overall world trends regarding the availability of sugar reveal a substantial increase in the amount available for consumption; in 2000, an average of 74 more kilocalories per capita were consumed than in 1962, corresponding to a 32% increase in the percent of energy derived from caloric sweeteners, and a 21% increase in the proportion of carbohydrates consumed in the form of refined sugar. In the U.S., daily consumption of caloric sweetener increased by 83 kcal from 1977-1996 for all individuals age 2 and older; the percentage of energy derived from caloric sweetener rose by 22% during that same time period. From 1994-1996, more than 30% of carbohydrates consumed came from caloric sweetener.
While this article does not examine the effects of increased sugar intake on obesity or chronic disease, the authors note that increased consumption of soft drinks and snacks appear to account for a significant percentage of this increased intake. They emphasize that if this increased consumption persists, "we will inexorably move away from foods that are potentially important sources of calcium and other key nutrients and toward foods that provide fewer nutrients."
Popkin BM, Nielsen SJ. The sweetening of the world's diet. Obesity Research