The negative ways in which sugar can affect one’s well-being are widely discussed.
As we previously noted, a study from the American Heart Association reports that “eating a diet lacking in healthy foods and/or high in unhealthy foods was linked to more than 400,000 deaths from heart and blood vessel diseases in 2015, according to an analysis presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention / Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health 2017 Scientific Sessions.”
We also noted a study published in Nature titled “Sugar intake from sweet food and beverages, common mental disorder and depression: prospective findings from the Whitehall II study.” It states: “Our research confirms an adverse effect of sugar intake from sweet food/beverage on long-term psychological health and suggests that lower intake of sugar may be associated with better psychological health.”
One area where a well-run workplace wellness program can help members focus on sugar intake: Figuring out where your sugar is.
Chicago Health reports that “The biggest sugar culprits are sweetened beverages, sweets and snack foods, according to the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Almost half of an individual’s added sugar calories come from regular soda, fruit drinks, sweetened coffee and tea drinks, and sports and energy drinks. About one-third come from sugar-laden snack foods and sweets.”
The piece quotes Lisa Neff, MD, an endocrinologist at the Center for Lifestyle Medicine at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, who agrees: “The first thing that everybody needs to figure out is where the sugar is in their diet.”
Other tips that workplace wellness programs can help members consider:
- Avoid (or at least reduce) sugar-sweetened beverages. As we reported from a study titled Support for Food and Beverage Worksite Wellness Strategies and Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Intake Among Employed U.S. Adults: “Sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption is high among U.S. adults and is associated with obesity.”
- Avoid sports drinks. Said Neff: “Unless you are an extreme athlete like a marathon runner who needs hydration plus electrolytes, your body doesn’t need sports or energy drinks.” Another study, this one published in BMC Nutrition and titled Postprandial energy metabolism and substrate oxidation in response to the inclusion of a sugar- or non-nutritive sweetened beverage with meals differing in protein content concludes: “Consumption of a SSB [sugar sweetened beverage] during a meal markedly reduces energy efficiency and fat oxidation independent of macronutrient composition.”
- Focus on quantity. As the Chicago Health piece notes: “A good rule of thumb is to stick with less than 10 grams of added sugar per serving in a food product. Aim for less than 10 percent of your daily calories to come from added sugar. That’s 200 calories or less for a 2,000 calorie diet.”