Shocking Levels of Sugar in 8 Popular Beverages

The Editors of EatingWell Magazine
Healthy Living

Shocking Levels of Sugar in 8 Popular Beverages

By Kerri-Ann Jennings, M.S., R.D. Associate Nutrition Editor, EatingWell Magazine

When New York City announced a plan to ban the sale of sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces this week, it sparked debate about the health implications and even the legality of this type of public health policy. The move by the city will prevent the sale of supersized sodas and other sugary beverages, including some fruit drinks-those that are less than 70% juice-and sweetened coffee or tea at restaurants, movie theaters and street carts. (Milk-based drinks, diet sodas, juices and drinks that deliver fewer than 25 calories per 8 ounces are unaffected by the ban.)

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As a registered dietitian and associate nutrition editor of EatingWell Magazine, I think this policy draws attention to an important point-that many sweetened beverages deliver loads of unnecessary and possibly harmful calories. More than 35 percent of the added sugar in American diets comes from soda, sweetened drinks and sports drinks, so it makes sense that cutting down on these products would make a significant dent in our collective sugar intake.

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High intakes of added sugars-the type that are, yes, added to foods and beverages, not sugars that naturally occur in foods like milk or fruit, for instance- are linked with increased risks for high blood pressure and high triglyceride levels, risk factors for heart disease, and may also contribute to weight gain.

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For that reason, the American Heart Association has recommended a limit on how much added sugar we eat in our daily diet: 6 teaspoons (100 calories) a day for women, 9 teaspoons (150 calories) for men. As you can see from the list below, it's all too easy to overdo it on sugar when it comes in liquid form-many drinks deliver more than the recommended limit for added sugars-even when limited to 16 ounces. See how the added sugars in 16 ounces of these beverages add up:

Note: A teaspoon of sugar has 16 calories.

13 teaspoons of added sugars

Canada Dry Ginger Ale
11 teaspoons of added sugars

Hi-C Orange Lavaburst
10 teaspoons of added sugars

McDonald's Sweet Tea
9 teaspoons of added sugars

Fruit-Flavored Gatorade
6 teaspoons of added sugars

Low-Fat Chocolate Milk
6 teaspoons of added sugars

Starbucks Vanilla Nonfat Latte, Iced or Hot
4 teaspoons of added sugars

Dunkin' Donuts Iced Coffee with Sugar
4 teaspoons of added sugars

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What do you think of New York City's ban on selling sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces?

By Kerri-Ann Jennings

Kerri-Ann Jennings, a registered dietitian, is the associate nutrition editor of EatingWell Magazine, where she wields her master's degree in nutrition from Columbia University writing and editing news about nutrition, health and food trends. In her free time, Kerri-Ann likes to practice yoga, hike, bake and paint.

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