The effects of sugar have been much studied; many of the results are inconclusive. It’s definitely true that sugar provides the body with no nutrients, only calories. For this reason, sugar is known as an empty calorie food that should be eaten in moderation. The problem is that so many packaged and processed foods today contain such high amounts of sweeteners that the effects of sugar on the diets of many people are harmful.
If people fill up too much on sugary, low-nutrient foods it’s easy to not get enough healthy foods in the diet. A habit of eating a lot of sugar can also mean that people get used to having everything sweet; they often add too much sugar to otherwise healthy foods. For example, sugar is typically added to tomatoes, tomato sauce and ketchup. Sugar is a cheap food for manufacturers to use and it appears in salad dressings, peanut butter and many other foods. Sugar can be “hidden” in so many packaged, prepared and processed foods that it’s easy for many people to underestimate how much sugary food they’re actually consuming.
On top of the sugar-laced foods used in meals, most people also have desserts, soda and candy than contain mostly sugar. According to United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) guidelines, the limit of a person's daily sugar consumption, based on a 2,000 calorie diet, should be about 10 teaspoons (40 g). But USDA studies have shown that Americans average closer to 20 teaspoons (80 g) of sugar a day. One serving of soda has at least 10 teaspoons of sugar and some brands contain much more.
While sugar consumption doesn't cause diabetes, it does complicate it. Diabetics can't process sugar properly because it causes the sugars in their blood to be either too high (hypoglycemia) or too low (hyperglycemia). The wide swings in high and low blood sugars can cause serious health problems, such as blindness, loss of limbs and coma. Glucose, or sugar, tolerance tests are given when doctors suspect patients have diabetes. In a glucose tolerance test, the body’s sugar level is tested after an individual drinks a sugary substance.
Studies of the effects of sugar on behavior date back to 1922. Since then, many studies have been done on hyperactivity or attention deficiency hyperactivity disorder (ADHA) and the effects of sugar in children. Mostly, these results are inconclusive.
Sugar consumption has been shown to cause tooth decay. It’s important to note that other foods can also rot teeth if adequate brushing and flossing aren’t done. Foods leave bacteria on the teeth that can cause cavities. Brushing and flossing the teeth should be done after meals. Eating too much sugar can cause weight gain that may lead to obesity.