Gene Expression

Sugar intake by demographic variable

Apparently the average American gets ~17% of their calories a day from sugar. This varies by population segment:

The intake of added sugars was higher among men than women and inversely related to age, educational status, and family income. Asian Americans had the lowest intake and Hispanics the next lowest intake. Among men, African Americans had the highest intake, although whites and American Indians/Alaskan Natives also had high intakes. Among women, African Americans and American Indians/Alaskan Natives had the highest intakes. Intake of added sugars was inversely related to educational attainment in whites, African Americans, Hispanic men, and American Indians/Alaskan Native men, but was unrelated in Asian Americans. These findings were generally consistent with relationships in National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2003-2004 (using one or two 24-hour dietary recalls).

I suspect the sugar intake varies among Asian American groups. In Discover Your Inner Economist Tyler Cowen points out that in Asian cuisine the usage of sugar is relatively new, and so generally the ‘desserts’ are far less rich than might be found in European fare. The exception to this: Indian cuisine (sugar cane is indigenous to South Asia). No wonder brownz tend toward fat & diabetes.


  1. #1 Anne McCrady
    August 1, 2009

    Too much risk. Too much money. Too much fat. Too much sugar.This is not the first nor will it be the last news item that confirms that excess is America’s worst bad habit.

  2. #2 AG
    August 1, 2009

    The finding of sugar intakeinversely related to educational level is quite similar to the observation in book Class: A Guide Through the American Status System (Paperback)
    by Paul Fussell

    In book, low class consume more sweet food than upper class.

  3. #3 Matt
    August 2, 2009

    Interesting, especially given that Chinese takeout is basically sugar in everything (and from what I know, there are some stereotypes about Filipino food overall being like this).

    Also possibly of interest:

  4. #4 ElamBend
    August 3, 2009

    I’m sure all that roti, which is a pretty sugar rich (both added and natural) bread doesn’t help.
    I’d be curious to see another study, controlling for level of intake to see if sugar had disparate effects on different racial groups, for instance, is it more likely to make blacks fat as opposed to northern europeans.

    However, given that regional charts you showed earlier, that really may just be a function of geography, since most blacks in the US live in the land of Sweet Tea.

    So, alternatively, I guess you’d need to see if Black/White sugar intake in the south is equal.

    Jack LeLane is right, though, sugar isn’t good for you.

  5. #5 diana
    August 8, 2009

    After finishing Gary Taubes GOOD CALORIES BAD CALORIES I am on an anti-carb jihad.

    “Too much fat.”

    No, not enough fat. Americans have reduced their fat intake, they have become quite cowed and confused by rotten data.

    But methinks a paradigm shift is about to occur.

    Handy Links:

    High fat nutrition:

    Dental caries:

    Taubes (essential reading, a compendium of all the relevant studies in the last 100 years):

    Read the book yourself and make up your mind. Any reasonable person will at least admit that there is an alternative hypothesis that deserves to be tested with respect to diabetes, obesity, heart disease, atherosclerosis, etc.

    My own dumbed down rule is: Sugar kills. Don’t eat it. Or if you do, know what you are doing to yourself.

  6. #6 deadpost
    August 9, 2009

    It’s odd that East Asians haven’t made more use of sugar in their desserts when sugar cane is so abundant nearby, especially since many E. Asian countries are closer to (the wet tropical parts at least) India than Europe or the Middle East is.

    Besides, a lot of other crops seem to have been pretty commonly shared between tropical-like areas of S. and E. Asia, such as rice, tea, many fruits etc. after all, right?

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