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Added Sugars Account For 13% Of Adults' Caloric Instake

May 03, 2013 03:43 PM EDT

Added sugars, or sweeteners added to processed and prepared foods or sugar added to foods at the table, make up approximately 13 percent of the total caloric intake among adults living in the United States, according to a study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

The study, based on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, warned that the increased consumption of added sugars has been linked to a decrease in the intake of essential micronutrients as well as increase in body weight.

The report showed that as people grew older, however, the mean percentage of total calories from added sugars decreased as well as when income increased.

As Bethene Ervin, a nutritional epidemiologist for the CDC, told NBC News, a possible reason for this is because income “is often considered a proxy for education. So adults with more income and education may be making healthier lifestyle choices.”

These choices, however, don’t appear to be spilling over into their children: the report estimated that roughly 16 percent of caloric intake among children and adolescents comes from added sugars.

Non-Hispanic black men and women consumed a larger percentage of their total calories from added sugars than non-Hispanic white and Mexican-American men and women, according to the report.

And while many are quick to point a finger at soda, the report showed that drinks are not the number one culprit. In all, 67 percent of the added sugars consumed came from food, versus 33 percent from beverages, and specifically from products consumed at home versus away from home. This was true regardless of the demographic.

“I think people are interested in making changes and they’re heeding the warnings about sugary beverages,” Sara Bleich, an associate professor of health policy at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told NBC. “But when it comes to food it’s much more complicated. Cereal, for example, has a tremendous amount of added sugar. And not everyone understands that breakfast foods like muffins and pastry, things that people don’t consider to be a desert or indulgence, pack a lot of sugar.”

Furthermore, as Bleich pointed out, four to five servings of cereal may fit into one normal sized bowl, “And that’s an enormous amount of sugar.”

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