Just a spoonful of sugar: How many do you down in a day?


Waking up and having a coffee every day is part of many people’s routines, but what about  eating a lot of teaspoons of sugar first thing in the morning?

A Statistics Canada report on sugar consumption found that one in every five calories that Canadians consume comes from sugar. The 2004 report also found that, on average, Canadians consume 26 teaspoons of sugar in a day.

Most people don’t realize how much sugar is in everyday products. For some, knowing what’s in a product isn’t the first priority, especially college students, who have to consider price, accessibility and more.

Marek Knapczyk, an Electrical Technique student at Sheridan, admits he doesn’t care about his sugar consumption because it isn’t harming his physical appearance.

“I don’t care about sugar consumption because I’m skinny. I don’t check for sugar in any products and eat whatever I feel like eating at any time of the day. It doesn’t impact my life as far as I know since I don’t keep track of it,” said Knapczyk.

However, there are long- and short-term effects of consuming too much sugar. These include: obesity, hypertension, atherosclerosis, type 2 diabetes, swings in energy levels and of course craving more sugar.

Dr. Trevor Cottrell, a professor in the Kinesiology and Health Promotion program at Sheridan, suggests that one of the most important parts of learning about sugar consumption is understanding what sugars are.

Sugars come from a biochemical class of molecules called carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates are usually called sugars or simple sugars. Simple carbohydrates include the disaccharides (two carbohydrates linked together) lactose, sucrose and maltose.

Usually when people talk about sugars it is sucrose, which is commonly considered as a table sugar. Sucrose is made of the monosaccharides (single carbohydrate) glucose and fructose.

“Simple sugars offer little nutritional benefit other than that derived from the energy provided. Unfortunately, most individuals consume plenty of energy (calories) each day so little sugar is needed,” said Cottrell. “Glucose and fructose, despite being needed for energy, are very toxic to the body if consumed in excess. They trigger inflammation and can be damaging to many of the organ systems.”


Kendra Lutley, an Early Childhood Education student at Sheridan, didn’t care much about her sugar consumption. But that’s starting to change.

“I actually didn’t use to care at all. I have a fast metabolism so I could eat whatever I wanted without gaining weight. Recently I’ve decided that I should still care what goes into my body and while I do still eat some junk food, I’m trying to cut out more sugars, such as drinking water instead of pop or juice, or grabbing an apple instead of a cookie or two,” said Lutley. “I also work with children, and feel that I should set a good example, as they see what I eat throughout the day.”

A common misconception is that artificial sweeteners help beat that sugar craving.

“Artificial sweeteners are a decent alternative if you really need a sweetened product. They are relatively safe in moderation, despite what you might read on the Internet. The problem with sweeteners are that they can cause further cravings for sweet foods,” said Cottrell.

Like everything, sugar consumption is manageable through moderation and how accessible the sweets are.

“I think most people can agree with the statement that if food is in their house, they’ll eat it. It can be really hard to stay away from a certain food if you know that it’s there, or if you see someone else having that sugar,” said Lutley. “For example, I am trying to eat healthier, but if I see a chocolate bar sitting in my kitchen, chances are I’m going to have some.”