Although it might not surprise you, results of a new study show that added sugar consumption has risen over 30 percent (228 to 300 calories per day) in the last 30 years. In children, added sugar consumption has increased about 20 percent (from 277 to 329 calories per day). These increases are despite the recent declines in sugar consumption that have taken place.

“The thirty percent increase is only the average consumption among adult Americans,” noted Elyse Powell, lead researcher. “Even more alarming is the fact that the top 20 percent of adult consumers are eating 721 calories from added sugar per day, on average. This is equally alarming for the top 20 percent of children who are consuming on average 673 calories from added sugar per day.”

Wow! That’s a lot of sugar.

Recent efforts by the FDA to include added sugar on nutrition labels will hopefully prove fruitful. This country is facing a health epidemic that is fueled by sugar. In my opinion, added sugar has no place in the diet whatsoever. It is a nutrient-poor addition to the diet that only comes with negative effects disguised as a sweet treat. Don’t fall for it. Read your labels. Until nutrition labels are changed (and if they are changed), you can find added sugars in the ingredients list. But beware of the many names under which it might be hidden. Click here for a list of 56 alternative names of added sugar.

Foods high in added sugar are usually energy dense, nutrient poor foods. Meaning, they pack a lot of calories, but few, if any, nutrients. Opt for fresh foods that have not been processed for the most nutrient bang for your buck.