OUR GOVERNMENT CONFUSES THE SUGAR ISSUE
By Nancy Appleton, Ph.D.
In 1986, the F.D.A. (Food and Drug Administration) came out with
a report concerning the consumption of sugar in the United
States, and whether this consumption of sugar had ill effects on
the health of the people.1
The F.D.A. based its conclusions on scientific research reported
in medical journals from around the world. The F.D.A. did not do
the research itself. It just concluded the findings from
research that others had done. One of the conclusions of the
report is that when sugar is eaten in large quantities, 25% to
50% or more of the calories of the diet of humans or animals, the
following diseases can develop: diabetes mellitus,2, glucose
intolerance, (hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia),3, cardiovascular
risk,4, behavior changes,5, excess secretion of calcium in the
urine,6, gallstones,7, and mineral deficiencies.8
The report concludes that sugar does not lead to these
degenerative diseases in the United States because the average
person does not eat too much sugar. The only adverse effect
sugar has is to cause tooth decay.9
The FDA said that the average person ate 40 pounds of sugar per
person in the year 1985, which is equivalent to 12 teaspoons a
day or approximately 8 to 12 teaspoons a day or approximately 8
to 12% of the daily calories from sugar.10 This report also
noted that in the U.S, we manufactured 124 pounds of sugar per
person per year.11 So what happened to the extra 84 pounds of
sugar that we manufactured but did not eat? The report says this
extra goes to dog foood, export, storage, loss in shipment,
handling and processing and/or waste.
Not believing everything I read, I started to do my own research.
I telephoned the FDA and spoke to Dr. Hilthe Irausquin, one of
the people who compiled the report. I asked Dr. Irausquin how
the information was obtained that each person ate 40 pounds of
sugar each year. This researcher said to me that the method was
not very scientific nor sound and in the future, a better method
would have to be found. A questionnaire was sent to 5,000 people
asking them to keep a diet diary of what they consumed for the
next week. The information was obtained from these
I would like to quote Sidney Mintz, who wrote SWEETNESS AND POWER
on this very subject. "One fascinating expression of this modern
way of eating is found in what we know as consumed and what
people recall they have consumed. Where as the Department of
Agriculture figures demonstrate that we dispose of about 3,200
calories per capita per day, the average white female adult, for
example, can recall, when asked what she ate on the previous day,
only 1560 calories, a noticeably low average, and less than half
the "disappearance" figure. Since average weight has risen
steadily in this country, these recall data are difficult to
accept as accurate. They suggest a pattern of ragged and
discontinuous but very frequent snacks that are surely forgotten
by those who do the eating."
Still interested in this idea that we only eat 40 pounds of sugar
per person per year, I phoned the Soft Drink Association. I
spoke with Irene Melvin who sent me a report which was titled
"Estimated Annual Production and Consumption of Soft Drinks."12
The report showed that in 1985 we drank the equivalent of 486.2
12 ounce cans of soft drinks per person per year.12 Ms. Melvin
said that of those 486.2 cans, 386 cans were with sugar. One
hundred were sugar free. Each sugary soft drink has approximately
10 teaspoons of sugar. After doing a little math with my
calculator, I realized that each person drinks approximately 11
teaspoons of sugar per person per day in soft drinks alone. If
we only eat 40 pounds of sugar per person per year, which is
equivalent to 12 teaspoons a day, we would have only on teaspoon
left a day left for cookies, candy, cake, pie, ice cream, fruit
yogurt, ketchup and other sugary foods. I believe that the
F.D.A. has made a gross mistake in calculating that we eat only
40 pounds of sugar per person per year.
By every other source that I have read, the average American
consumes over 120 pounds of sugar per person per year. The
University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter reported the
largest amount of sugar consumed per person per year. The letter
reported that each American consumes about 133 pounds of sugar
each year. That amount accounts for 20 to 25% of all calories
and 500 to 600 calories per person per day.13 The average
teenage boy eats just twice that amount of sugar.
If the U.C. Berkeley Wellness Letter is correct that the amount
of sugar we consume is approximately 133 pounds per person per
year, then sugar does lead to degenerative diseases as reported
by the F.D.A. in their report. I was delighted to read that most
of the F.D.A. report was spent showing the research from around
the world that sugar does cause disease when eaten in large
quantities. They did a superb job of documenting this. I
commend them. The total report was 152 pages long. Of those 152
pages, 118 of the pages were from world research which directly
correlated that when the consumption of sugar reached 20 to 25%
of a person's diet, people began to develop medical problems.
What they did was spend most of their report showing that sugar
does cause disease. The only mistake the F.D.A. made was to
miscalculate the amount of sugar we eat each year. Their charts
were excellent and their bibliography was clear and precise. In
the amounts that we eat sugar today, approximately 133 pounds per
person per year, sugar is a problem for many people. I recommend
that everyone read this report and draw their own conclusions.
This report can be read in the "Journal of Nutrition," Volume
116, No. 11S, November 1986 Supplement, or obtained for $15.00
from the American Institute of Nutrition in Washington, D.C., in
a different form but with the same information.
In my book LICK THE SUGAR HABIT, I explain the biochemical
pathway that sugar takes in the body, how it upsets the delicate
mineral balance, mineral dependent enzymes are unable to function
optimally, food does not all digest, undigested food gets into
the bloodstream causing havoc in the body and an immune response.
Over a period of time the immune system cannot continue to make
this response and becomes exhausted. The exhaustion of the
immune system leads to the degenerative disease process. It just
depends on a person's genetic blueprint as to what disease will
Unfortunately it is not only sugar that upsets the body chemistry
but also distress, anger, depression, caffeine, alcohol, rancid
and overcooked fats, overeating, street drugs, and many over the
counter and prescription drugs. All of these things take the
same biochemical pathway in the body that sugar does. So eating
a little sugar, being a little depressed, having a beer and some
French fries can more than upset the body chemistry and this in
turn, over a period of time, causes disease. The research that
the FDA showed only included sugar. If the researchers had also
distressed the subjects along with giving them sugar and possibly
rancid fats, I believe the research would have shown that the
subjects would have developed cardiovascular disease, diabetes
mellitus or other diseases that were discussed in the report with
far less sugar. It would have become metabolic overload with two
or more different stressors.
So sugar and other abusive foods do play a role in the
degenerative disease process. Any person with symptoms, such as
allergies, headaches, arthritis, high blood pressure, yeast
infections, cancer sores, fatigue, falling asleep after meals,
cancer, AIDS or any other degenerative disease would be helped by
removing abusive foods and not letting stress become distress.
For more information on LICK THE SUGAR HABIT and a balanced body
chemistry on the web: www.nancyappleton.com
1. Glinsmann, Walter H., M.D., Irausquin, Hiltje, Ph.D. and
Park, Youngmee K., Ph.D. EVALUATION OF HEALTH ASPECTS OF
SUGARS CONTAINED IN CARBOHYDRATE SWEETENERS. Center for Food
Safety and Applied Nutrition, Food and Drug Administration,
200 C Street, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20204.
2. Ibid, pp. 60 - 76.
3. Ibid, pp. 41 - 59.
4. Ibid, pp. 115 - 127.
5. Ibid, pp. 128 - 133.
6. Ibid, pp. 139 - 141.
7. Ibid, p. 141.
8. Ibid, p. 141.
9. Ibid, p. 39.
10. Ibid, p. 7.
11. Ibid, p. 6.
12. Mintz, Sidney, SWEETNESS AND POWER, New York: Viking Penguin
Press. 1985, 205.
13. "Estimated Annual Production and Consumption of Soft Drinks"
Soft Drink Association, 1101 16th St. N.W., Washington, D.C.
14. University of California, BERKELEY WELLNESS LETTER. 6:3
(Dec. 1989) p. 4-5.
Nancy Appleton, Ph.D., is a speaker, researcher, nutritional
consultant and author of LICK THE SUGAR HABIT, HEALTHY BONES AND
In 1977, the U.S. Senate's Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs
issued a report entitled "Dietary Goals for the United States." The report
was highly critical of "America's eating patterns" which, it
declared,"represent as critical a public health concern as any now before
us." Forcefully, the Committee related the excess consumption of sugar
with tooth decay, diabetes, obesity and heart disease and called for a
reduction by 40% in sugar intake. The Senate never issued another report
on nutrition. The 1977 report is hard to come by - negotiated out of
print, I suspect, by the powerful sugar lobby.
In 1986 the Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.) issued a report on
American sugar consumption and its possible ill effects on health. The
F.D.A. report based its conclusions not on its own scientific research, but
on that reported in medical journals from around the world. One conclusion
was that consumption of sugar in quantities of from 25 to 50 percent or
more of the caloric intake of humans or animals could result in one or more
of the following complications: diabetes mellitus, glucose intolerance,
hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia, cardiovascular risk, behavior changes,
excess secretion of calcium in the urine, gallstones, and mineral
deficiencies. The good news was that Americans need not worry about this
(except for tooth decay), because sugar consumption in this country was not
The report went on to say that the equivalent of 124 pounds of sugar per
person was manufactured in the U.S. in 1985, but that the average American
ate only 40 pounds of sugar, or about 8 to 12 teaspoons a day. So what
happened to the extra 84 pounds of sugar that the U.S. manufactured but did
not eat? The report said this extra went to dog food, export, storage,
loss in shipment, handling, and processing and/or waste.
Unable to take the F.D.A.'s word for it, I started to do my own research.
I telephoned the F.D.A. and spoke with Dr. Hilthe Irausquin, one of the
authors of the report. I asked Dr. Irausquin how the information was
obtained that each person ate 40 pounds of sugar per year. She admitted
that the F.D.A.'s method was neither scientific nor sound - a questionnaire
sent to 5,000 people asking them to keep a weekly diet diary. I was
assured that in the future, a better method would have to be found.
Still unconvinced that Americans ate only 40 pounds of sugar per person
per year, I phoned the Soft Drink Association and spoke with Irene Melvin,
who sent me a report entitled "Estimated Annual Production and Consumption
of Soft Drinks." The report showed that in 1985 we drank the equivalent of
486.2 12-ounce cans of soft drinks per person, of which Ms. Melvin told me
100 were sugar-free. Each sugary soft drink contains approximately 10
teaspoons of sugar. Ten teaspoons of sugar 386 times per year meant that
America's per-capita consumption of sugar from soft drinks alone was 11
teaspoons per day! If we believe the F.D.A.'s estimate that we consume
only 40 pounds of sugar per person per year, which is equivalent to 12
teaspoons a day, then we must believe that we consume only one teaspoon of
sugar per day in all the cookies, candy, cake, pie, ice cream, jams,
jellies, fruit yoghurt, ketchup, and other sugary food we eat!
I believe that the F.D.A. has made a gross error. By every other source I
have read, Americans consumed more than 120 pounds of sugar per person in
the year 1987. The University of California's BERKELEY WELLNESS LETTER
estimated a whopping 133 pounds per year, accounting for 20 to 25 percent
of all calories, and 500 to 600 calories per person per day in 1987! If
the BERKELEY WELLNESS LETTER is correct, then sugar does lead to denerative
diseases as reported by the F.D.A. in their report.
As I wrote earlier in this book, recent government research
shows that in 1998 our sugar consumption increased to 153 pounds per person
per year. In 1998 the government still supports sugar, and critics say it
takes a 1.4 billion yearly bite out of United States consumer's
pockets, your money and mine.