Cut Back on the Candy, Eat Less Added Sugar

AMES, Iowa – It’s that time of year when grocery store shelves offer an abundance of pastel-colored, wrapped candy. Communities are advertising egg hunts, in which well-meaning adults hide candy-stuffed plastic eggs in public parks for eager children to discover. In these sugar-filled times, remember moderation, said Sarah Francis, an Iowa State University assistant professor and ISU Extension and Outreach nutrition specialist.

“I like candy, but candy adds extra fats and sugars to our diets. If this ‘extra’ is more than our needed calorie intake, we will gain weight,” Francis said.

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommends reducing the intake of calories from solid fats and added sugars. Sugar often is classified as either natural or added. Natural sugars are those found in fruit or dairy products. Added sugars are added to foods during processing, preparation and at the table. Both types of sugar are digested and used by the body in the same way, Francis explained.

“The difference is that foods containing natural sugars typically have other health-promoting nutrients, but foods with added sugars provide extra calories with few to no health-promoting nutrients,” Francis said. “About 16 percent of the total calories in Americans’ diets come from added sugars. The leading sources of these added sugars include soda, energy and sports drinks, as well as grain-based desserts, sugar-sweetened fruit drinks, dairy-based desserts and candy.”

Examples of added sugar include high fructose corn syrup, white sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, raw sugar, malt syrup, maple syrup, pancake syrup, fructose sweetener, liquid fructose, honey, molasses, anhydrous dextrose and crystal dextrose.

“By limiting your intake of these added sugars, you also will decrease the amount of calories in your diet,” Francis said.

Live Healthy Iowa

Teams can still join the Live Healthy Iowa 100-Day Challenge. This team-based weight loss and physical activity program helps Iowans make positive changes that lead to a healthier lifestyle. For more information or to register, visit Live Healthy Iowa is a partnership of the Iowa Department of Public Health, Iowa Sports Foundation and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

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