On average, Americans’ total consumption of caloric sweeteners like refined cane sugar and high-fructose corn syrup is down 15 percent from its peak in 1999, according to government data. That’s when we consumed an average of 111 grams of sugar a day (423 calories).
After plateauing in recent years, consumption was down to 94 grams a day (358 calories) last year, according to the US Department of Agriculture, which calculates the figures by estimating how much of the caloric sweeteners produced are never eaten. But that level is still higher than the 87 grams Americans consumed on average in 1970.
A major factor for the drop appears to be the decline in soda consumption, as the high-fructose corn syrup used to sweeten drinks like Sprite and Mountain Dew has been on the decline.
Thomas Farley, the health commissioner in Philadelphia, said it could take many years before the positive effects from the reductions in soda consumption to turn up in health data. But he also noted that factors like the growth in snacking, the availability of food in more places, and oversized restaurant dishes can fuel obesity.
And though it’s lower, sweetener consumption of 94 grams a day is still the equivalent of roughly two and half cans of Coke. That far exceeds the government’s recommendation.