John Oliver's Segment on Sugar Will Make You Rethink Your Snack — VIDEO
I don't know about you, but when I buy bags of Halloween candy at the store for those adorable trick-or-treaters, I know deep down that one of those bags is secretly for me. Normally I can nosh in peace, but after John Oliver shed light on how much sugar we consume on Last Week Tonight, I might have some second thoughts. In his call to food companies to be more transparent about their sugar usage, he shared the disturbing statistic that most, if not all Americans, ingest 22 teaspoons of sugar a day, which amounts to 75 pounds of sugar a year.
So you know your annoying 11-year-old cousin Sean who comes over on Christmas and always tries to play with your iPhone? Yeah, you eat his weight in sugar. Eww.
Excessive sugar consumption has already been linked to diabetes and obesity, but studies have also shown, as Oliver's segment points out, it causes brain damage in rats. So the effects of our high sugar diet may be more insidious than we thought. The worst part of it all? You probably don't even know you're doing it.
Whether you religiously count calories or just try to avoid the really bad stuff, you consume these crazy amounts of sugar because food companies are not entirely straightforward with you on the labels. Sure, they list the sugar content in the nutrition facts, but they don't talk about how much sugar they added to get your product to where it is. They also list the amount in grams, which I will be the first to admit mean nothing to me because I'm a shameful dependent of the Imperial system. So, even when you think you might be eating or drinking something healthy, you can't know for sure.
Here's a breakdown of how much sugar is in some of your (my) favorite foods and drinks.
A grande Pumpkin Spice Latte
Yup, I'm gonna start off hitting you right where it hurts. The PSL is an autumn staple (I'm drinking one as we speak). But, a grande with whipped cream and two percent milk contains 49 grams of sugar – or 10 teaspoons of sugar. Yum.
While some breakfast or energy bars are on the healthier side, some still have eight grams of sugar, which amounts to two teaspoons per bar.
A 20 fl oz bottle of Soda
This one made me gag a little bit. A standard 20 fl oz bottle of regular soda contains a whopping 65 grams of sugar, which stacks up to 13 teaspoons.
A Long Island Iced Tea
A favorite cocktail of many for its high liquor content, the Long Island Iced Tea packs 33.3 grams of sugar, or 6.7 teaspoons of sugar.
Your standard banana contains 13 grams of sugar. Granted, it's natural sugar and not added, but it still amounts to about 3 teaspoons.
At the end of the day, it's impossible to avoid sugar. The point isn't to cut it totally out of your life, but to be mindful. Other foods that tend to have high sugar contents are crackers, salad dressing, beef jerky, bread, cereal, ketchup, cocktails and sports drinks. Fellow Imperial system users can convert grams to teaspoons here.