Sugar & the Diet

Sugar in the Context of the Total Diet

Sugar in the Total Diet

Putting Added Sugars and Sugar Intake into Perspective of the Total Diet

We all know that there is a serious obesity problem in the United States. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that during a 40-year period, Americans’ daily consumption went up by more than 450 calories.1 Not to mention, as a society, we move a lot less.2, 3

In 1970, people were consuming 2,024 calories each day. Fast-forward to 2010 (the most recent calorie data), and that figure jumped to 2,476—nearly a 25% increase in calories. But added sugars didn’t make up a very big percentage of the increased intake. Over that same period, added sugars consumption increased only from 20.8 tsp/day to 22.9 tsp/day, a 10% increase of 34.5 kcals/day. Calories from added fats and oils have increased by 225 kcals/day, a 66% increase, and calories from grains have increased by 116 kcals/day, a 28% increase.1


Daily per capita total calories and calories from added sugars, added fats and oils, and grains1

YearAdded SugarsGrainsAdded Fats and OilsTotal Calories

Going wayyyy back – total diet perspective

The calories contributed by major food groups have shifted over the years. Here’s a look at the makeup of the total calories in our diet and the way they’ve changed since 1909.5

percentage of calories contributed from major food groups to the u.s food supply


1. Food availability (per capita) data system: Loss-adjusted food availability documentation. USDA ERS. Updated Feb. 1, 2017.

2. US Department of Health and Human Services. Available at: 2008 physical activity guidelines for Americans. 2008. Accessed April 20, 2018.

3. Ladabaum U, Mannalithara A, Myer PA, Singh G. Obesity, Abdominal Obesity, Physical Activity, and Caloric Intake in US Adults: 1988 to 2010. Am J Med. 2014;127(8):717-727.e12

4. USDA, U.S. Trends in Food Availability and a Dietary Assessment of Loss-Adjusted Food Availability, 1970-2014, January 2017. Available at:

5. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. Nutrient Content of the U.S. Food Supply, 1909-2010. Available at: Accessed April 10, 2018.

Sugar & the Diet
Sugar & the Diet

Facts About Sugar Intake

For the past 20 years, added sugars consumption has been on a significant decline in the United States.

Learn More
Sugar & the Diet

Sources of Added Sugars

Sugar is added to food for lots of reasons. Read more to learn the most common sources of added sugars in Americans’ diets.

Learn More

Stay in Touch

Sign Up