A few centuries ago, most people consumed only a few pounds of concentrated sugars a year. Though estimates vary, Americans today average at least 75 pounds of added sugar annually—that’s one-fifth pound a day (about 22 teaspoons), which provides 350 “empty” calories. Nearly half of that sugar comes from sweetened beverages (including coffee and tea); one 16-ounce bottle of soda has about 11 teaspoons of sugar.
As we previously reported, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend a limit on sugar for the first time: no more than 10 percent of a person’s daily calories should come from added sugar. That amounts to about 12 teaspoons (50 grams) for someone consuming 2,000 calories a day (1 teaspoon contains about 4 grams of sugar).
The 10 percent limit matches the new one from the World Health Organization, which advises, however, that getting less than 5 percent of daily calories from added sugar (about 6 teaspoons and 100 calories on a 2,000-calorie daily diet) is an even better goal. The latter is similar to the strict recommendations from the American Heart Association: no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar a day for most women and 9 teaspoons for most men.