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 Lisa Shea BellaOnline's Low Carb Editor

Amount Sugar Eaten a Year

If you think you're not a candidate for a low carb / low sugar diet, look at the statistics. The average American eats a whopping 160 pounds of sugar and corn syrup each year - PLUS another 24 pounds of artificial sweeteners. That's just the average! That doesn't even include natural sugars that foods like bananas, apples and other natural items contain.

If you think you're not adding that much sugar to your cup of coffee, take a look at the ingredients in the foods you eat. The government highly subsidizes corn to keep our food prices low. Unfortunately, most people don't eat "corn". They ingest "corn syrup" - a super sweet mixture added to everything from pancake syrup to soda to cereals. The average American takes in 42 pounds of corn syrup every year.

The average teenage boy drinks 868 cans of soda a year. The average girl isn't far off this mark.

Remember, not too long ago sugar was a luxury food item. People would proudly display sugar on their table in a sugar bowl, to show how rich they were. The average person only ate 7 pounds of sugar over an entire year.

Some might say, why not just convert over to 100% artificial sweeteners? For example, if we ingest 180 pounds or so a year of "extra sweetener" in our diet, why not have that all be Aspartame?

According to a JADA article, a 40mg packet of Aspartame is equivalent in sweetness to about 2 tsp of sugar. There are about 113 teaspoons in a pound of sugar. That means in 180 pounds of "additional sweetener" a year that Americans eat, that would be 180 pounds x 113 tsps per pound = 20,340 teaspoons of sweet stuff each year that Americans consume.

Working backwards now, we know that 40mg of Aspartame is equal to 2 teaspoons. That means 20mg of Aspartame equals 1 teaspoon. So we take 20mg Aspartame * 20,340 teaspoons and come out with 406,800mg of Aspartame a year to ingest.

Luckily, the metric system is VERY easy to go conversions in. There is no complicated math necessary! 406,800mg is simply 406.8 kg. Easy as pie!

So is it safe or healthy for a human being to consume 406.8kg of Aspartame in a year?

If you go by WHO standards, they did tests on rats and then randomly decided that a value for humans would be 1/100th of that ratio. Their number they settled on was 50mg/kg weight. Since most US people think in pounds, 1kg is 2.2 pounds. That's 50mg / 2.2lb.

A person weighing 150lb also weighs 68kg. That person could therefore eat (50mg * 68kg) = 3409mg of Aspartame. So 3.4kg in a day. I'm doing this all step by step so you can calculate it for your own weight and interest :)

With our 406.8kg level above, that is 1.11kg/day we would currently be eating. So that's only 1/3rd of the WHO maximum right? Isn't that safe?

First, if someone tells me that smoking 10 cigarettes a day is a maximum for me, I don't believe that smoking 3 cigarettes a day is therefore 100% safe. Dangers are cumulative - they aren't zero and then suddenly are 100%. They are incremental in the middle.

Second, I've heard from many visitors to this site that they are sensitive to aspartame in quantities FAR lower than 1.11kg/day. Just because a few rats were OK with aspartame at these levels does not mean every human being is too. I know people who would drop dead from a speck of peanut oil. It's safe to assume that many of us are also sensitive to Aspartame in less-than-1.11kg quantities.

Finally, I believe strongly in WEANING ourselves off our sweet tooth - NOT in addicting ourselves to another chemical equivalent. It isn't healthy for us to eat sweet foods 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you need help during that process, I highly recommend going with stevia, a natural herb. If you want to know why explicitly I am against using Aspartame as a weaning agent, read here:

Aspartame Dangers

Calorie Control Council and Aspartame Safety
Phenylketonuria, phenylalanine, PKU and aspartame
Methanol, Methyl Alcohol and aspartame

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