More Sugar, Less Nutrition

By Matthew Kadey, MS, RD
Jun 19, 2018

Eating too much sugar is not only bad news for our waistlines; it can also make our diets less potent. Dietary survey data from 6,150 adults in an American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN) study revealed that high intakes of “free sugar” (sugar added to packaged foods like yogurt and cereal or to home-cooked foods) can coincide with lower consumption of several important micronutrients, including calcium and magnesium.

The nutrient dilution is most prevalent when free-sugar intake reaches 25% of daily calories. This makes sense when you consider that processed foods with lots of added sugar tend to have less nutrient density and more empty calories. Interestingly, when free-sugar intake makes up less than 5% of overall calories, the risk of taking in suboptimal amounts of micronutrients also rises, which could be related to inadequate total calorie intake.

Want your clients to tame their sweet tooth? Make sure they spend more time between the sheets. Sleeping longer appears to help people eat less sugary food and consume a healthier diet, according to a King’s College London study, also published in AJCN. Extending study participants’ sleep patterns by up to an hour per night reduced average free-sugar intake by about 10 g (2.5 teaspoons) from baseline diets and raised scores on a healthy-eating index. Sleep, or a lack of it, can affect brain functioning and appetite hormone levels, leading to changes in eating habits.

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Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

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