Sugar: The Not-So-Sweet Truth

Melanie Rovinsky

If you have ever looked carefully at a nutrition label, you may have noticed that no percent daily value is given for sugar. However, considering the increase of sugar consumption in our society, this missing piece of information may come in handy to individuals keeping track of their diets.

How much is too much?

Although there is no official recommended daily allowance (RDA) for sugar, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) advises average adults to consume no more than 40 grams (10 teaspoons) of added sugar per day in their 2,000 calorie diet. According to the USDA, Americans are eating 30 percent more sugar now than we did about 30 years ago. On average, most people consume twice as much sugar as they should.

Why isn’t there an official RDA for sugar?

Experts have not established an RDA for sugar because they cannot determine exactly how much should be eaten in a day. Announcing a recommendation for sugar consumption is tricky because experts must take into account natural and added sugars, both of which currently make up the sugars listed on a nutrition label.

What’s the harm?

Over consumption of sugar has been linked to numerous health problems. Excess sugar has been linked to causing or hastening the following conditions: diabetes, obesity, heart disease, arthritis, hypertension, tooth decay, compromised immune system, hormonal irregularities, Crohn’s Disease, digestive disorders, and skin disease.

Do we need sugar at all?

Sugars are a type of carbohydrate, which deliver quick, useable energy to our bodies. There are many types of sugars; most of them end in the suffix –ose, making them easy to recognize on nutrition labels. Naturally occurring sugars, like those found in apples or carrots, are not harmful because they are balanced by nutritional benefits. Sugar is in everything we eat, from spinach to jelly beans, and as a result, it is impossible to cut it out of your diet.


Although no percent daily value is given for sugar, try to keep your added sugar intake under 40 grams per day. It may be disheartening to put your sugar consumption into perspective, but a single serving bag of Skittles contains 47 grams of sugar… more than you should eat in an entire day! Don’t deprive your sweet tooth all the time; indulge in moderation!