The great sugar challenge

I recently challenged some of my colleagues at work to record everything they ate for three days and then let me assess their sugar intake.

Meet my three brave participants:


The sugars that I was specifically concerned about were “added” sugars, which includes table sugar, as well as sugars from honey, syrups, fruit juice and fruit concentrates.

These added sugars are harmful to our health and the World Health Organization (WHO) advises that we lower our sugar intake.  For more about the “sinister” effects of added sugars see my previous blog post.

So how much of the sweet stuff is too much?

In March, the WHO released new draft guidelines stating that a reduction of added sugars to below 5% of total energy intake would be beneficial. For an average person, this corresponds to a maximum of about 25 grams (or 6 teaspoons) of sugar.

The WHO also has a long standing recommendation that added sugars make up a maximum of 10% of total energy intake.

So I put our participants to the test to see if their sugar intake was good (<25 g), okay (<50 g) or poor (> 50g).

Without further ado, here are the results:


Congratulations to Helinda for having the lowest intake of added sugars, falling well below the WHO target with an average added sugar intake of 14 grams per day.

For Vanessa, it was clear that while her meal choices were quite healthy, sweetened beverages were the primary contributor to her added sugar intake.

One tip: try replacing sweetened creamers with plain cream. Also avoid fruit juices which really aren’t a healthy choice – they are processed and have lost the majority of their fiber, so they contribute to your intake of harmful “added” sugars.

Peter’s sugar intake was off the charts, but most of it was attributed to a few sugar-packed indulgences like having a medium coke, containing a total of 56 g of sugar.  Another time it was a snack of 1 package of skittles plus 5 pieces of mini oh henry’s providing a whopping 84.4 grams of sugar.  There were also some hidden sources of sugar – like ketchup with eggs and later with a hotdog, contributing 15 gram of sugar.  Peter’s response to the hard numbers – “that’s just crazy.”

Peter’s a smart man and now he’s trying to avoid sugar for his health.  Way to go Peter!

I’m so thankful to our volunteers for being so open and allowing me to publicly comment on their dietary habits.

I hope this inspires you to take small steps to make healthier choices each day!