During his bodybuilding career, Arnold Schwarzenegger sometimes referred to white table sugar (sucrose) as “white death”. That may have been something of an overstatement, but a recent paper by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. U.S.A. suggests that maybe Arnold knew what he was talking about. The Center conducted a review and analysis of a U.S.A. national health survey of approximately 43,000 adults, and found a significant co-relation between added dietary sugar consumption, and increased risk of cardiovascular disease mortality.

Those who consumed 10 to 25% of their daily calories from added sugar, had a 30% higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease, compared to those who consumed less than 10% of their daily calories from extra sugar. Those who obtained more than 25% of their daily calories from added sugar, were three times as likely to die from heart disease compared to the less than 10% group. It should be noted that the World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended that less than 10% of daily calories should come from added sugar, and this study appears to strongly support that recommendation. The WHO has said that most people in Europe exceed that amount.

The Atlanta Center’s review found that almost two-thirds of the participants in the American study obtained more than 10% of daily calories from added sugar, with sugar sweetened beverages, such as soda, being the main contributor to the excess. Interestingly, the second biggest contributor was grain-based desserts. Something to think about the next time you reach for those muesli bars at the grocery store. You may think you are doing something supremely healthy, but sugar is often used to provide cohesion to grains and nuts that would not normally stick together. The third biggest contributor was juice drinks, once again indicating that something you may think is healthy, may have unhealthy additives.

Much of the additional refined sugar intake of study participants may not have been sucrose, as high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is the preferred sweetener for all kinds of processed food in the U.S.A. Nonetheless, the study suggests that, for optimum health, extra refined sugar of any kind should be limited in your diet.


Yang Q, Gregg E, Flanders D, Zhang Z, Merritt R, Hu F, Added Sugar Intake and Cardiovascular Mortality among U.S. Adults, Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Internal Medicine, doi:10,1001/jamainternmed.2013.13563, published online Feb. 3, 2014

Thursday, February 6, 2014

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