CDC Sugar Report Doesn't Go Far Enough to Address the U.S. Obesity Crisis

For decades now, many researchers and science writers have blamed our growing waistlines on increasing sugar consumption. And the federal government has finally caught up — almost. 

According to a new report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American children get 16% of their daily caloric intake from added sugars in the food they eat. The report also found that children and teenagers get more of these empty calories from food than they get from beverages like soda (59% compared to 41%), and sugar consumption isn't affected by income level. 

It's widely known that junk foods make us fat and wreak havoc on our health. The problem, however, is that we could cut all of these unhealthy choices out of our diets and it wouldn't do much to reduce our weight or risk for disease. As I've written before on PolicyMic, the USDA dietary guidelines recommend Americans eat a low-fat diet composed primarily of carbohydrates. 

Whether from whole grain bread or Doritos, carbohydrates are metabolized the same way; your body converts them into ... wait for it ... sugar (glucose) and stores it in your fat cells. This is why so many dieters determined to slim down often fail, because the advice they follow doesn't get to the root of the problem. The bottom line is that humans did not evolve to eat sugar. We can survive on it, and some healthy foods contain sugar, but we don't need sugar itself.  

Rare is the accurate science news story, but Medical News Today got it right when they reported, "The theory that the human body is simply not designed to consume processed sugars seems to hold water when looking at all the 'sugary' health issues that are becoming clearer, as researchers gather more data."

Researchers will continue to gather data, but we've had sufficient evidence for years that the accepted dietary wisdom is wrong, even harmful. The CDC's report is a step in the right direction, but we have a long way to go.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Cameron English

I cover public health, nutrition and science education for PolicyMic. I also write critical thinking exercises for high school science textbooks. My previous work includes freelance writing and editing for Science 2.0. I've never been paid by Monsanto for my opinions, though that would be awesome.

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