Americans losing their sweet tooth - poll

  • 02/02/2016
Americans losing their sweet tooth - poll

US citizens say they are on a sugar detox.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll of 1883 adults living in the United States, conducted from January 15 to 21, finds that 58 percent say they tried to limit sugar in their diets in the previous 30 days.

That is higher than the percentage of those who were targeting reductions in their intake of calories, sodium, fats, cholesterol or carbohydrates. Only 39 percent said they had not tried to cut their sugar intake.

Last month, the US government said that Americans should seek to keep their intake of added sugars (that is, sugar added during processing or preparation of foods) to less than 10 percent of daily calories - the first time it had recommended a specific limit.

That would translate to a cut of about one-third for the average American, but a significantly higher reduction for teenagers, who eat about 17 percent of their calories in added sugars.

Of the people surveyed, 50 percent said they had tried to cut down on calories, 48 percent on sodium, 46 percent on both saturated fats and trans fat/trans fatty acid, 43 percent on cholesterol and 40 percent on carbohydrates.

While the number of people who weren't planning cuts in calories, sodium and fats roughly matched those hoping to reduce intake, only 39 percent of respondents said they had no intention of cutting down on sugar.

The survey asked people about their attempts to limit sugar, not about their success rate, so notoriously short-lived New Year's resolutions may account for some of the responses.

There is also no directly comparable poll for previous years.

But the poll results may reflect the impact of the increasing concerns expressed by health advocates about links between high-sugar diets and levels of obesity.

This "war on sugar" has grown in recent years to encompass not just sodas and sweets but also packaged foods such as cereal and pasta sauce.

According to Google Trends data, online search interest in the term "added sugar" is on the rise, and in January reached a 12-year high in the United States.

A spokeswoman for the Sugar Association, which represents US sugar companies and grower-cooperatives, said that limits on sugar are "the low hanging fruit in the fight against obesity".

She added that the real culprit behind obesity has been a rise in calories from things other than sugar since 1970.