SugarScience Blog Archive

April 7, 2021

Compulsive About Sugar? Workplace Sugary Beverage Sales Ban Doesn’t Help Everyone Equally

Many institutions – such as schools, hospitals, and workplaces – have reduced the availability of sugar-sweetened beverages to help fight health problems such as weight gain, diabetes and heart disease.

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March 22, 2021

State Preemption: An Emerging Threat to Local Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Taxation

We sought to examine the strategies promoting and countering state preemption of local sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) taxes in the United States. Using Crosbie and Schmidt’s tobacco preemption framework, we analyzed key tactics used by the SSB industry to achieve state preemption of local taxes identified in news sources, industry Web sites, government reports, and public documents.

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July 22, 2020

Transnational corporations, obesity and planetary health

The Lancet Commission on obesity calls for a reframed understanding of obesity, undernutrition, and climate change as a global syndemic of interconnected crises with common societal drivers. Within low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs), research and advocacy on how transnational food and beverage corporations are impacting obesity and undernutrition is growing.

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July 20, 2020

Cost-Effectiveness Of A Workplace Ban On Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Sales

Sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) increase chronic disease risk. We estimated the impact on employee health and health care spending of banning SSB sales in California-based health care organizations. We used survey data from a large, multisite health care organization in California, sampling 2,276 employees three months before and twelve months after a workplace SSB sales ban was imposed. We incorporated the survey data into a simulation model to estimate chronic disease incidence and costs.

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November 4, 2019

City Visions: Are sugary drinks a public health hazard?

Sugar has been targeted by scientists for a while now, who view it as an addictive substance that contributes to many of our modern health challenges. Certainly the evidence suggests that sugar might be making us sick. According to the CDC, 40% of American adults are now clinically obese, and 10% of all adults have diabetes. Additionally, 34% of adults are what is called “prediabetic,” with blood glucose levels that are abnormally high.

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October 28, 2019

Sugary Drink Ban Tied to Health Improvements at UCSF Medical Center

A workplace ban on the sale of sugar-sweetened beverages led to a 48.5 percent average reduction in their consumption and significantly less belly fat among 202 participants in a study by researchers at the UC San Francisco. Elissa Epel, PhD, lead author of the 10-month study that looked at positive health effects associated with reducing sugary beverages intake.

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October 8, 2019

U.S. obesity as delayed effect of excess sugar

In the last century, U.S. diets were transformed, including the addition of sugars to industrially-processed foods. While excess sugar has often been implicated in the dramatic increase in U.S. adult obesity over the past 30 years, an unexplained question is why the increase in obesity took place many years after the increases in U.S. sugar consumption.

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October 8, 2019

Calculating the Risk of type 2 diabetes by consuming Sugary Beverages

Evaluating the the associations of long-term changes in consumption of sugary beverages (including sugar-sweetened beverages and 100% fruit juices) and artificially sweetened beverages (ASBs) with subsequent risk of type 2 diabetes.

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August 7, 2019

First Strict Test Shows Why a Junk Food Diet Packs on Weight

Harried humans around the world are embracing cheap, ultra-processed foods such as white bread, bacon and hash browns. But the first randomized controlled trial on the health effects of these foods shows that people offered such a diet ingest more calories — and pack on more weight — than they do when presented with more wholesome meals.

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March 14, 2019

Tobacco companies hook kids on sugary drinks

Tobacco conglomerates that used colors, flavors and marketing techniques to entice children as future smokers transferred these same strategies to sweetened beverages when they bought food and drinks companies starting in 1963. The study by researchers at UC San Francisco, which draws from a cache of previously secret documents from the tobacco industry that is part of the UCSF Industry Documents Library, tracked the acquisition and subsequent marketing campaigns of sweetened drink brands by two leading tobacco companies and found that as tobacco was facing increased scrutiny from health authorities, its executives transferred the same products and tactics to peddle soft drinks.

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January 4, 2019

Sugar’s Sick Secrets: How Industry Forces Have Manipulated Science to Downplay the Harm

Why is our food saturated with all these sweeteners? When did they make their way into our yogurt, cereal, and oatmeal? How did they sneak into our salad dressing, soup, bread, lunch meat, pasta sauce, and pretzels? And, most crucially, what forces are responsible for this deluge, which is making some of us very sick? UCSF scientists are uncovering the answers to those questions.

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September 24, 2018

Unveiling UCSF's New Food Industry Documents Archive

The UCSF Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies and the UCSF Industry Documents Library are excited to announce the public launching of the New Food Industry Documents Archive. The event, held on November 15, 2018, featured a stellar lineup of speakers. For details of the symposium click the link below.

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March 13, 2018

How to Stop Eating Sugar

If you live in the United States, you probably eat more sugar than is good for you. It’s probably not your fault, either. Added sweeteners are infused into a shocking number of foods. To help you give up the cravings for sugar, David Leonhardt, New York Times Op-Ed Columnist, has written a guide that was published in the New York Times.

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February 15, 2018

Using Art to Tackle Obesity and Diabetes in Youth

Between 2000 and 2009, the rate of Type 2 diabetes in children jumped more than 30 percent — and it is climbing especially fast among children from poor and minority families. Faced with these startling numbers, public health experts and arts educators have teamed up to try a novel approach to preventing the disease in young people.

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January 27, 2018

How neighborhoods shape life with diabetes

People with diabetes who live in poor communities with limited access to exercise facilities or grocery stores may have a harder time managing their symptoms than diabetics living in more affluent areas, a U.S. study suggests. A patient takes a blood glucose test during an event aimed to help people with diabetes to cope with their illness at Saint Luka diagnostics medical center in Sofia, November 13, 2012. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov Communities with lower employment, income and education that have scant resources to support exercise and healthy eating have long been linked to an increased risk of developing diabetes. For the current study, however, researchers focused on 15,308 patients who already had diabetes to see if their neighborhoods might impact how well they lived with the disease.

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November 28, 2017

Sugar Industry Suppressed Evidence of Health Risks of Sucrose

The sugar industry buried scientific research almost 50 years ago that pointed to negative health effects of sugar, ceasing funding the research when it reflected negatively on the industry's interests, according to a new UC San Francisco study. In a study published Nov. 21, 2017 in PLOS Biology, the authors said their analysis of internal documents bolsters evidence that the sugar industry has manipulated science in order to protect commercial interests, and to influence regulations and public opinion.

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October 18, 2017

Nine-Year Collaboration Has Just Shown How Sugar Influences Cancer Cell Growth

There's a long-known relationship between cancer and sugar, but figuring out exactly how it works has proven elusive. Now, thanks to a nine-year research project, scientists have made a breakthrough. They've narrowed down the mechanism whereby cancer cells metabolise sugar. They've narrowed down the mechanism whereby cancer cells metabolise sugar. The focus of the new research was on a metabolic effect that has been understood for over 90 years.

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September 13, 2017

11th Annual Sugar, Stress, Environment, and Weight (SSEW) Symposium

The 11th Annual Sugar, Stress, Environment, and Weight (SSEW) Symposium, presented by  the UCSF Center for Obesity Assessment, Study and Treatment (COAST) and the UCLA Resnick Program for Food Law and Policy, brings  together leading researchers to present the latest science on how the food we eat and the stress we experience create a perfect storm, accelerating one of the most urgent public health crises of our time: the obesity epidemic.

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August 11, 2017

New study suggests that sugar may impact both our mental and physical health

Research is now uncovering more information about just how consuming excess sugar impacts our overall health-not just our physical health but also our mental health. In a study that just became available online (July 2017) titled “Sugar intake from sweet food and beverages, common mental disorder and depression: prospective findings from the Whitehall II study” by Anika Knuppel, Shipley, Llewellyn and Brunner (21 November 2016) is the first of it’s kind to indicate that high intakes of sugar contributes to depression in men.

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April 11, 2017

New Leaders in the Race to Reduce Sugar

Public Health England (PHE) has just published an impressive game plan that has the potential to put a serious dent in their overall sugar consumption, especially for kids in the UK. The USA and UK are both super concerned about the alarming rise of obesity and diabetes especially with children. But the PHE is way ahead of the game given their aim to reduce sugar intake found in foods up to 200,000 tons or 20% by 2020.

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January 20, 2017

Sugar Terms 101

Here is a helpful sugar breakdown for those of you who are confused by the different types of sugar terms that have been tossed around in the media lately … Thank you to Linda Robbins who wrote an article in the Times Telegram titled Sugar Vocabulary.

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December 20, 2016

Sleep + Soda = Sleepy

A new study shows that there is a correlation between sugar sweetened beverage consumption and less sleep. Data from a population of 18,000 people was studied by the UCSF science team and found a correlation between sleep and sugar-sweetened beverage consumption.

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November 15, 2016

Metabolizing Sugar

Sugar metabolism is the process by which energy contained in the foods that we eat is made available as fuel for the body. The body’s cells can use glucose directly for energy, and most cells can also use fatty acids for energy. Glucose and fructose are metabolised differently, and when they are consumed in excess they may have different implications for health.

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October 14, 2016

8th Annual COAST/SSEW Symposium at UCSF

This one day symposium brought together researchers, health professionals, and influential policy makers from the UC-wide system and beyond to explore the intersections of biology, behavior, food and addiction, and how to prevent food addiction across the lifespan for individuals and communities through academically inspired activism, institutional interventions, and public policy.

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September 12, 2016

Sugar Papers Reveal Industry Role in Shifting Focus from Heart Disease to Saturated Fat

It all started with a secret PR campaign dating back to the 1970s. For forty years, the Sugar Association, key trade group for sugar producers, deflected all threats to its multi-billion dollar empire, while sweetening the world's food supply. As obesity, diabetes, and heart disease rates skyrocket, doctors are now treating the first generation of children suffering from fatty liver disease. The sugar industry is once again under siege.

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August 31, 2016

Hidden Sugars may have serious effects on Heart Health

For the first time ever the American Heart Association (AHA) is taking a stand on sugar intake. The AHA reviewed and graded the most recent scientific evidence for studies examining the cardiovascular health effects of added sugars on children.

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August 14, 2016

Key metabolic markers for disease changed by cutting sugar in a child’s diet.

if sugar is nixed from the diet while continuing to eat the same amount of food your child’s health significantly improves in just a bit over a week’s time.

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July 20, 2016

New Concerns about Type 2 Diabetes in Kids

A new report in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has shown that nearly 1% (0.8%) of teenagers in the United States—about 334,752 kids—now have diabetes. While that may sound like a low number, it’s nearly triple the previous estimates, which were 0.34% or about 142,227 teens.

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July 14, 2016

Making H2O More Accessible to Kids

Water is critical to children’s health and academic performance. The Parents Making Waves toolkit will walk parents through the steps toward ensuring their children have access to safe, accessible, and appealing drinking water at school.

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March 2, 2016

Free Toolkit Shows The Importance of Providing Clean Water in Schools

Water is critical to children’s health and academic performance. The Parents Making Waves toolkit will walk parents through the steps toward ensuring their children have access to safe, accessible, and appealing drinking water at school.

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January 7, 2016

Dietary Guidelines Crack Down On Sugar

With January comes lots of diet advice. And today comes the official advice from the U.S. government: The Obama administration has released its much-anticipated update to the Dietary Guidelines. The guidelines, which are revised every five years, are based on evolving nutrition science and serve as the government's official advice on what to eat.

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December 16, 2015

6 Ways To Limit Sugar during the Holidays

At TEDMED, a three-day conference focusing on health and medicine, Laura Schmidt, PhD, a professor of health policy at UCSF, talked about how we can cut down on sugar intake and create a healthier world for ourselves and our children.

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October 30, 2015

Laura Schmidt Presents at TEDMED Conference

Sugar scientist and UCSF professor of health policy Laura Schmidt will question whether consumers really do have freedom of choice – and what policymakers can learn from corporations in nudging consumers toward healthier behaviors. Join us this November 18-20 to see this year's program, live on the TEDMED Stage in Palm Springs, California.

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July 29, 2015

Can "Healthy Foods" Make You Sick?

In "That Sugar Film," Australian film director Damon Gameau documented in less than two hours what has been occurring gradually throughout the U.S. population over decades. Within 60 days, by eating what most Americans believe is “healthy food,” he had self-induced what we in medical research call Metabolic Syndrome—the underlying hormonal dysfunction that accounts for the rising rates of diabetes, heart, and liver disease in America.

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June 1, 2015

UCSF Healthy Beverages Initiative

Starting July 1, the UCSF campus and medical center will begin rolling out a Healthy Beverages Initiative across campus, starting at Mission Bay and culminating in October at Parnassus. Under the program, UCSF will sell a variety of zero-calorie waters, plain milk, coffee, tea, diet beverages and 100% pure fruit juice in our vending machines, coffee kiosks, cafeterias and eateries on our property and will eliminate sales of sugar-sweetened beverages.

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May 6, 2015

SugarScience Response to 2015 Dietary Guidelines Recommendations

The SugarScience team has joined nearly 1,000 people so far who have written to express their support or concerns about the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee's recommendation to the USDA and HHS. Here is our response.

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April 14, 2015

Diet Soda and Belly Fat: A Growing Concern

A growing body of evidence is showing that it might not just be added sugar, but also artificial sweeteners, that are contributing to the rapidly rising rates of obesity and diabetes in America.

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March 27, 2015

Why Sugar Matters Today. Finding Tools to Fight Diabetes.

During the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, 1,500 U.S. soldiers lost a limb in combat. In that same period, more than 1.5 million U.S. residents lost limbs to amputations from type 2 diabetes. That glaring fact, and the millions of Americans affected by it, is something we need to remember in the midst of the dry discussions around sugar and food labeling.

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March 24, 2015

"Sugar Papers" Reveal Industry Role in 1970s Dental Program

Industry documents discovered by UC San Francisco researchers reveals that the sugar industry worked closely with the NIH in the 1960s and ‘70s to develop a federal research program focused on approaches other than sugar reduction to prevent tooth decay in American children.

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March 4, 2015

Taking the Lead Worldwide: World Health Organization Recommends Sugar Limits

The World Health Organization (WHO) has put a historic stake in ground on the subject of sugar and health, issuing new guidelines that call upon countries to reduce the consumption of added sugar. The UN group continues with its recommendation that both adults and children limit their intake of added sugar to less than 10% of total daily calories. What’s new is its guidance that it may be best to keep added sugar below 5% of daily calories. That’s 25 grams (6 teaspoons) per day for a 2,000-calorie diet.

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February 24, 2015

A Critical Step in the Right Direction

The nation’s top nutritional advisory panel has made an important move to help address what it calls the “enormous cost” of chronic disease in the United States. This welcome news comes in the form of dietary recommendations to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). If adopted in the upcoming 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, we will be the first generation of Americans to have a science-based, federally recommended limit on added sugar.

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February 17, 2015

Hyperactive Kids: What's Sugar's Role?

For years, parents have insisted that giving kids a big dose of sugar can amp them up, but the science failed to confirm their instincts. Now, with the rising awareness of sugar’s role in our diets and health, scientists are once again asking whether sugar could play a role in the growing number of new ADHD cases in American kids. It still isn’t entirely clear on whether added sugar is linked to hyperactivity or clinically diagnosed ADHD. But in some areas, the evidence is building. Here’s what we do and don’t know about ADHD, sugar and kids.

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February 10, 2015

Starting Kids out on the Right Track

An important new study on added sugar and salt in packaged food for babies and toddlers, published in the journal Pediatrics, is receiving broad attention in the news media due to the stark findings and its authoritative source: researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in Atlanta.

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January 31, 2015

The Science on Sports Drinks

A large number of SugarScience followers have asked about the value of sports drinks. This is topical following Super Bowl weekend and it’s especially important for our readers: according to our latest poll, one third of our website visitors exercise more than four times a week. If you exercise that much and regularly consume sports drinks in hopes of boosting performance, this could be adding a pretty heavy dose of added sugar to your diet.

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January 7, 2015

What's Your SugarShift?

Happy New Year! As 2015 begins and we all set our resolutions for the year, most of us have health as one of our top priorities. So here's the SugarScience challenge for your new year: Join us as we roll out #SugarShift2015!

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January 6, 2015

Two white crystals to avoid for cardiovascular health

A study on the impact of sugar on cardiovascular disease that appeared Dec. 12, 2014, in the scientific journal Open Heart has received widespread coverage by traditional media, but the conclusion should be placed in context.

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December 28, 2014

A Condiment, Not a Diet Staple
Navigating holiday foods is easier if we rethink our sweets

The holidays are upon us, along with the onslaught of candy canes and chocolate, breakfast strudels and eggnog. In short, it’s a tough time to be telling friends and family to cut back on sugar. But while that may seem impossible at this time of year, we can get a lot closer to balance if we shift the way we think about sweets.

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December 10, 2014

The Sweet Science of Honey

Honey appears to be on people’s minds. Among the nearly 600 Ask the SugarScientist questions we have received so far were a few dozen about whether honey is better than other sweeteners. The requests sent us back to PubMed, the premier database of peer-reviewed scientific literature.

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November 25, 2014

Thanksgiving: Food, Family, Health

For many of us, the holidays are the one time of year when we can gather our far-flung families and bring them all back to the same table. Some of us have cranberry with our turkey and some of us serve salsa. But for everybody, Thanksgiving is about food and family. And that’s what makes it also about health.

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November 10, 2014

Welcome to SugarScience!

We’re a group of 12 scientists and physicians at three universities who’ve come together to create the authoritative source for the science about added sugar and its impact on our health.

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November 4, 2014

Why Sugar? Why Now?

Americans are consuming unprecedented amounts of sugar in the form of sweetened drinks and processed foods – far more than we did a few decades ago. A growing body of new science suggests that all this sugar isn’t just making us fat; it may also be making us sick.

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October 28, 2014

Starting with Teeth
Oral health begins with watching your sugar intake.

Everyone wants a beautiful smile. But despite the perfect teeth we see in movies, we’re actually facing a national epidemic in oral health. And as our grandmothers have told us, eating sweets really is the quickest way to get cavities.

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October 21, 2014

It's Not Just about Obesity
One 12 oz. soda a day raises your risk of dying from heart disease.

Research now shows that overconsumption of added sugar, independent of all other risk factors, is linked to an increased risk of dying from heart disease.

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September 17, 2014

Artificial sweeteners induce glucose intolerance by altering the gut microbiota

This groundbreaking study suggests that artificial sweeteners may be a major cause of our epidemic of obesity and diabetes in North America. A team of scientists found that artificial sweeteners change the huge colony of bacteria in your intestines to favor the harmful bacteria that increase risk for diabetes.

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June 14, 2014

Sugar-sweetened beverage intake and cancer recurrence and survival in CALGB 89803 (Alliance)

Researchers kept track of over 1000 patients after they had received surgery for colon cancer, taking careful measurements of what they ate and drank, as well as all sorts of other lifestyle factors. Taking those other factors in to account, it was found that colon cancer survivors who drank two or more sugar-sweetened beverages per day had an elevated risk of having their colon cancer come back.

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April 1, 2014

Added Sugar Intake and Cardiovascular Diseases Mortality Among US Adults

A group of researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Harvard University, found that a sugar-laden diet may raise your risk of dying of heart disease even if you aren’t overweight. Added sugars make up at least 10% of the calories the average American eats in a day. But about one in 10 people get a whopping one-quarter or more of their calories from added sugar.

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April 1, 2014

New Unsweetened Truths About Sugar

In this research commentary, SugarScientist team member Laura Schmidt, PhD, outlines the shift in thinking among scientists regarding added sugar and its link to premature death from heart disease.

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SugarScience Facts

Growing scientific evidence shows that too much added sugar, over time, is linked to diabetes, heart disease and liver disease.

SugarScience Facts

Overconsumption of added sugar is linked to type 2 diabetes, a disease affecting 26 million Americans.

Healthy Beverage Initiative

Learn more about how organizations are
eliminating the sale of sugar sweetened beverages.

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