WATCH ABOVE: Trish Kozicka breaks down the not-so-sweet facts about sugar, including how much of it we consume.
TORONTO – Do you ever think about how much sugar you consume on a daily basis?
The food industry, and in part Health Canada, doesn’t always make it very easy to figure out. But we’re here to help.
Let’s start with the recommendations, which can be a bit confusing. Canada’s Food Guide, for instance, advises people to “limit their intake of food and beverages that are high in sugar.”
But, unlike for sodium, there are actually zero government guidelines in North America for daily intake of added sugar.
The World Health Organization and Heart and Stroke Association of Canada both recommend we decrease our consumption of added sugar to no more than 10 per cent of our total daily calories (five per cent would be even better, according to the WHO).
For the average person, the 10 per cent recommendation translates to 12 teaspoons of sugar per day — an amount that could be exceeded with a single can of pop.
READ MORE: World eating too much sugar, says UN
While sugar-sweetened beverages can be the single largest contributor of sugar in our diets, there are plenty of foods you may be surprised to learn are packed with it as well.
Like a tablespoon of ketchup, for example. That has a teaspoon worth of sugar in it. A can of baked beans can have a whopping 14 teaspoons of sugar.
Our infographic below offers a little more perspective:
Sugar is big business
The Canadian sugar industry directly employs 915 Canadians in four provinces: Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. Last year, we exported $437.7 million of sugar, including maple sugars and syrups. We imported almost double that ($836 million), most of which was unrefined cane sugar.
India is currently the world’s largest sugar consumer and second largest producer behind Brazil, which produces 36 million tonnes.
Some food for thought: In the U.S., the sugar industry spent $7.9 million on lobbying during the 2012 election. Last year, it spent a record $9.6 million.