Do you like sugar? Or is that just a silly question? Few, if any, people will say that they don’t like sugar. Maybe the better question would be: How much do you like sugar?

Scientists know that human tongues have special receptors that respond to sweet tastes. In fact, it seems that humans are born to like sugar.

Researchers don’t know exactly why we seem to be born with a sweet tooth, but it’s a common desire that most of us seem to share.

Sugar comes in many forms. Even if you wanted to eliminate all sugar from your diet, it would be almost impossible to do so.

In addition to the obvious sweet treats, sugar is in many of the things you eat. Sugar is found naturally in fruit and milk.

It’s also an ingredient in many types of foods, including yogurt, tomato sauce and salad dressing. If you look at food labels, they may not always indicate “sugar” is an ingredient.

Here are some ways sugar may be labeled:

  • sucrose: white “table” sugar
  • fructose: the sweetest form of sugar that combines with glucose to form sucrose, such as in corn syrup
  • glucose: a form of sugar less sweet than sucrose
  • lactose: milk sugar

Your body treats all of these types of sugars the same way, whether you eat them in the form of ice cream, candy, honey or fruit. They all provide energy in the form of carbohydrates.

So is sugar “bad” and to be avoided at all costs? Not necessarily! Sugar in itself isn’t harmful.

The problem with sugar arises when you eat too much of it and it becomes such a large part of your diet that it replaces other foods that are higher in nutritional value.

The key with sugar — as with just about all other foods — is moderation. Foods with a lot of added sugar, such as sodas, cookies, candy and ice cream, are usually high in calories and low in nutrition.

If you make these high-sugar foods a large part of your diet, health problems often follow. Eating too much sugar often leads to weight problems, including obesity.

Too much sugar has also been linked to diseases, like diabetes, and other health problems, such as tooth decay. Some people believe that too much sugar can lead to many other health problems, including high cholesterol.

So how much is too much sugar? Researchers estimate that most Americans eat about 22 teaspoons of sugar every day. That’s equivalent to about 355 calories’ worth of sugar.

But rather than naturally occurring sugar in fruits and milk, experts believe it is the added sugar in low-nutrition foods, like sodas and snacks, that’s causing Americans the most harm.

Instead of eliminating sugar altogether, experts recommend reducing the amount of sugar you eat. Eating sugar in moderation allows you to minimize the risk of sugar-related health problems while still enjoying many of the foods that still contain sugar.

Experts recommend that women limit themselves to about six teaspoons (or 100 calories) of sugar each day. Men should try to limit themselves to no more than nine teaspoons (or 150 calories) each day.


36 Join the Discussion

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  1. I think this is a good topic. I also think that women should have six teaspoons and men should have about nine teaspoons. I definitely love sugar, but I don’t have near as much as we’re suppose to have. I know this is different, but I had goulash last night and I like putting salt on it. Well, good-bye!

    • Hello, Austin! Thank you so much for sharing your views on sugar after exploring today’s Happy Healthy Habits Wonder! Goulash for dinner sounds WONDERful! Be careful, though! Too much salt can be unhealthy, too! But, that’s another Wonder for another day! :-)

      For those Wonder Friends who read Austin’s comment and might not know what goulash is, here’s a recipe with a picture to show you how yummy this comfort food really is: :-)

  2. We think there are many bad things that can happen when you eat too much sugar. You can get fat, get sick, get cavities, or bounce off the ceiling! We do not think we should get rid of sugar totally, but only eat a little at a time. We will make smart choices with our diet. Instead of apple crisp we will eat an apple. Instead of Mountain Dew we will drink bottled water. What choices will you make?

    • Thanks for doing extra WONDERing about this Wonder of the Day®, Mrs. Morales’ second grade-Ohio! Those are some GREAT choices you guys are making to eat more healthy foods! We will try to drink more water and make sure we get our recommended servings of foods from each food group every day! We like to exercise, also, so we will keep doing that! Thank you for encouraging other Wonder Friends to eat healthy with your comment! :-)

  3. We love sugar but we know it is not good for our bodies. We know in fruit and milk there is good sugar, thanks to you, Wonderopolis! In our lunches, we sometimes pack treats and we know they are not good for us. We should pack apples, oranges, pears, bananas, and other sources of good sugar. We still love our sweet sugar!

    • Thank you so much for sharing all the super things you learned from exploring today’s Happy Healthy Habits Wonder, Jarvis Second Grade! We know sugar tastes so good that it’s hard sometimes to make good choices about the foods we eat. We really like your idea of eating foods that contain good sugar! Way to go! :-)

  4. I try to cut sweets out of my family’s diet. It works for a couple weeks, and then we forget about it. How can we stick more to the diet we come up with?

    • We know it can be tough to break habits that aren’t the healthiest for us, Jennifer, especially when it comes to food! We think once you “remember” that you have “forgotten” about your better eating habits, it’s time to give those healthy habits another try! If you keep at it, your old habits will be replaced by new, healthier habits! Just keep trying! We believe in you! :-)

  5. We looked at a label for a 20 oz. Mountain Dew bottle and found that it has 77g of sugar! That equals approximately 18.3 teaspoons of sugar! We’re going to save soda as an extra-special treat, and try and not drink so much anymore.

    • That sounds like a really healthy decision, Mrs. P’s Class! Thank you so much for visiting Wonderopolis today and for sharing what you learned about soda! :-)

  6. MMM Sugar is my favorite thing to put on anything! I had no idea there were different kinds of sugar, or that sugar had different names! I do think sugar is one of the most hardest thing to cut out of your diet and I don’t do it . :) The sweet tasting taste buds are on the tip of your tongue so when ever eating a eating a candy bar, put the chocolate on the tip of your tongue for the best taste!! Well, I’m off to eat sugar, bye!

    • We know sugar tastes really good, Nick, but we really hope you are eating a good amount of HEALTHY foods every day, too! Your body will really appreciate some yummy apples or crunchy carrots! Thanks for sharing what you learned about sugar today! :-)

  7. I am fine with sugar on Halloween NIGHT, but not anytime after or before that! Does Wonderopolis like sugar? Does Wonderopolis eat candy?
    I love reading today’s Wonder Of The Day! Is it fine if I call it WOTD???? Well write more SOOOOOONNNNNN, PLEASE!!! Bye!

    • Hi, Leilani! There are lots of people who work here in Wonderopolis. Some of us like sugar and candy, and some of us don’t. We all try our best to eat healthy foods, drink lots of water, and exercise, though! Thanks for your positive attitude and enthusiasm! We really appreciate it (and, yes, you can call it WOTD if you’d like)! :-)

  8. We started our YMCA exercise and lessons this week and we learned how important it is to read food labels. We made this connection and discussed things we can find on food labels, like fat, sugars, vitamins, and calories. We also talked about candy having sugar since Halloween is fast approaching. Make sure not to overdose on sugar this weekend WONDER friends!! :)

    • That’s GREAT advice for all Wonder Friends, Kerrick Elementary School! Thank you for sharing it! Have fun and be safe, too! :-)

  9. I love this article and will share it with my students in the fourth grade. You put on this article how many teaspoons of sugar men and woman should have but what about kids? Seems like a lot of kids read this too!

    • Thanks so much for sharing Wonderopolis with your students, Summer! We appreciate your comment and tried to find some more information for you on kids and the amount of sugar they should be eating per day.

      Because of the varying ages, sizes and weights of kids, we weren’t able to find “THE” exact amount, but we did find out some more detailed information on the “empty calories” that are often found in sodas and processed foods. Here is a link for some of those guidelines from the USDA: Thanks so much for commenting on this Wonder of the Day®! :-)

  10. Hello Wonderopolis,

    Thanks so much for making this wonder, I enjoyed it very much!
    I had no idea that some products don’t have sugar listed as an ingredient, even though they have it in them. I also didn’t know that sugar can be listed so many ways. For instance Sucrose, Fructose, Glucose, or Lactose! I knew that some things had natural sugar, but I didn’t know that specifically milk and fruit! I was wondering, what happens if somebody has too much sugar one day, but none the next day? Will anything happen? Some new vocabulary words I found were Sucrose, Fructose, Glucose and Lactose! Thanks so much for this awesome wonder!

    Team Unger#11

    • We’re not sure what would happen if a person loaded up on sugar one day, but then didn’t have any at all the next, Team Unger #11! We’ll both have to do a bit more WONDERing about that! :-)

  11. But how can you really eliminate sugar from your diet when sugar is in everything? Because if it’s in it then isn’t just going to make you want more? How is that even possible Wonderopolis dudes? I mean sugar is in apples –apples! How can you get rid of it for good because sugar is in everything, in soda there is 10 teaspoons of sugar in one can; how insane is that? Help me understand!

    • Great questions, Naya! Sugar is important– we need some sugar in our bodies. However, TOO MUCH sugar, like those in candies, soda and other snacks is not the best for our bodies. Apples are full of sugar, but there are great nutrients in apples, too! A healthy balance is important– we’re proud of you for WONDERing about sugar, Naya! :)

    • Hi Treylen! Thanks for WONDERing with us! We certainly want our Wonder Friends to be healthy and strong, so eating small amounts of sugar is a good idea. There is sugar in fruit, too, so it’s best to get your sugar from delicious fruits and veggies instead of processed foods and candy bars! :)

    • Hi Prince, those are WONDERful questions! Sugar is an essential part of our diet – it gives us energy to keep us going! However, too much sugar can be bad for us. It makes us feel sluggish and tired, and our body doesn’t turn it all into energy! :)

  12. Is sugar so bad I mean we need some sorts of sugar like in milk or oranges some sugar for example like in candy or in sweet drinks are bad if they have a lot of sugar but I mostly drink water and i’m only 11 I don’t drink sweet things or eat candy ok maby like one peacie but in like 7 to 8 years all i’m saying not all sugar is bad but if you do go over your sugar limit exercise or eat more greens that’s a good way of limiting your sugar

    • Welcome, Aileen medina! Sugar is the same no matter what it is in, fruit or candy bars. Our bodies treat it the same way. The different is certain foods and drinks have very high amounts of sugar, such as candy and sodas. Exercising and eating more greens are great ways to maintain a healthier diet. Here is a WONDER about exercise. Wonder #381: What’s Your Favorite Way To Exercise? Keep up the WONDERful WONDERing! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • When is sugar too much of a good thing?
  • Is it easy to avoid sugar?
  • Should sugar be completely eliminated from children’s diets?

Wonder Gallery

Try It Out

Do you eat too much sugar? Find out! Ask an adult to help you keep track of how much sugar you eat for a week.

If you want, start a food diary. Write down everything that you eat every day for a week.

Keep track of how many calories and how much sugar you eat. Ask for help reading food labels, if necessary.

At the end of the week, add up the totals for each day. How many calories and how much sugar did you eat each day? Are you surprised?

Do you want to try to reduce the amount of sugar you eat each day? All of us could benefit from a little less added sugar in our diets.

Try to replace some sugar with foods that are higher in nutrition. Here are some tips to follow:

  • Replace sodas and fruit drinks with low-fat milk, water or limited amounts of 100 percent fruit juices.
  • Instead of candy, eat fresh fruits when you want something sweet.
  • Look for sugar-free or reduced-sugar versions of the foods you enjoy.
  • Watch out for hidden sugars in foods that seem healthy, such as yogurt and granola.
  • Look for alternative snacks that you enjoy. Fresh vegetables, for example, tend to be low in calories and high in nutrition.


Still Wondering

Visit Science NetLinks to find out how to use the resource to learn more about how to make good choices about the food you choose to eat.


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