By Aleksandra Vayntraub // SWNS
Nearly three in four (74%) Americans have a sweet tooth, even though half say they’re worried about how it's affecting their health.
A poll of 2,000 U.S. adults found 41% view sugar as more of a treat or indulgence rather than part of their diet.
At the same time, 51% are concerned about potential health risks associated with sugar consumption.
Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Veggies Made Great, the survey also found that while people are savvy about certain sugar facts, there are still knowledge gaps in how they understand their sugar intake.
On average, respondents believe the maximum daily sugar intake for an adult is 5.7 teaspoons, close to the 6 recommended.
The average person thinks they consume 3.5 teaspoons of added sugar per day, far less than the American Heart Association’s daily sugar intake recommendations for men (9 teaspoons) and women (6 teaspoons). The reality is that American adults consume an average of 17 teaspoons of added sugar per day, more than double the recommended amount, according to the American Heart Association.
So, what is the disconnect between how much sugar Americans think they eat and what they actually get in their diet? Underestimating the amount of added sugar a food actually contains. For example, the average respondent thinks there are 3.8 teaspoons of sugar in a serving of flavored yogurt when there can be as many as 6 teaspoons or more.
A quarter of respondents (25%) also incorrectly identified fruit juice as having the most sugar per serving from a list of foods and beverages, when in fact, it’s barbecue sauce.
Looking at the link between sugar and overall health, 42% believe sugar is the sole cause of weight gain, although there can be other contributing factors.
And while most knew overconsumption of sugar can affect tooth health (76%) and blood pressure (56%), fewer were aware of its effects on other aspects of their well-being, including the heart (43%), kidney (38%), liver (29%) and cognitive abilities (23%).
“Our research shows people may be underestimating the amount of sugar they consume, and it’s easy to see why,” said Carolyn O'Neil, a registered dietitian nutritionist and spokesperson for Veggies Made Great. “While we often hear ‘sugar’ and think of dessert, there are many foods outside that category, from bread to ketchup, that contain added sugars people may be consuming without knowing it.”
Prior to taking the survey, over two-thirds (67%) were surprised to have learned a certain food is sugar-heavy. The most unexpected one? Yogurt (37%), followed by breakfast cereals (34%) and bottled smoothies (30%).
Two-thirds (66%) have made an effort to reduce their sugar intake by choosing products with lower amounts of sugar (55%), reducing sugary desserts (49%) and opting for sugar-free drinks (43%).
“As people become more health conscious, there are small changes they can make in their food choices that can add up to better outcomes over time,” said Elliot Huss, CEO of Veggies Made Great. “Comparing food labels for the same products and choosing a low-sugar alternative is a great way to decrease your sugar intake while still enjoying the foods you love.”
This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 general population Americans was commissioned by Veggies Made Great between June 16 and June 20, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).