Caloric Intake

Sugars (all caloric sweeteners) contribution to increased caloric intake is being overstated.

U.S. Department of Agriculture has been monitoring food supply data since 1909, which provides important dietary trends. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s most recent food supply data, in 1970, Americans consumed 3200 calories per person per day. By 2005 that figure had jumped to 4000 calories per day (See the chart.) Yet, sugars share of those calories in 1970 was 18.6% and declined to 17% in 2005.

As a percent of caloric intake total sugars consumption continues to decline while added fats and oil consumption continues to increase (See the chart.) Furthermore, sugar/sucrose or table sugar per capita consumption has decline 39% since 1980.

In contrast, per capita consumption of total fats in 1970 was 145 grams and had increased dramatically to 190 grams in 2005. Saturated fat intake has gone from 50 grams to 59 grams per person per day over the same time period.

“More calories are available for consumption – and Americans are consuming more calories than they did 10 years ago. The increase in the amount of calories available for consumption is due mainly to a 28-percent increase in the amount of fat contributing to caloric levels, from 148 to 190 grams per day during this period.”

USDA, CNPP, Nutrient Content of the U.S. Food Supply, 2005, Home Economics Research Report No. 58

The current focus on reducing sugars in the diet will only exacerbate the troubling growth in fat consumption in the United States. Scientific studies have documented the inverse relationship between fat and sugars intake. The emphasis should be on individuals reducing their overall food and beverage intake (calories). Simply reducing fat or sugars in the diet is counterproductive if a reduction in total caloric intake is not achieved. Sugars and fats are essential components in many foods. It is reasonable to expect that should a decline in per capita total caloric intake be achieved, this would lead to a corresponding, meaningful decline in per capita consumption of both fats and sugars.

Dietary interventions that recommend reducing individual ingredients will only continue to obscure the real issue: if Americans continue to consume more calories – no matter the source – than they burn, weight gain is inevitable. Continually eating too much food and sedentary lifestyles are the major contributing factors to increasing rates of obesity – not sugars intake.