Not So Sweet – The Average American Consumes 150-170 Pounds Of Sugar Each Year

How much sugar do you consume in one year?

Tipping the sugar scales

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that the average American consumes between 150 to 170 pounds of refined sugars in one year!

You may be thinking, “I do not consume that much.” Well, it is also said that:

  • For every American who eats only 5 pounds of sugar each year, there is one who eats about 295 pounds per year. That is A LOT of sugar – especially when you compare it to how much we used to consume in the past.
      • To put things into perspective, during the early-1800s, the average intake of sugar was only about 4-6 pounds per person per year… not 150, 170, or 295 pounds! With each passing decade, there has been a steady increase in sugar consumption among the United States’ population.

Are you eating 30-34 five-pound bags of sugar each year?

Are you having a difficult time understanding how much sugar 150 to 170 pounds is? Here is a visual:

  • Imagine 30 to 34 five-pound bags of sugar lined up next to each other on a counter.

Now imagine one person, perhaps yourself, eating ALL of that sugar.

Are you eating 1.25-4.5 pounds of sugar each day?

To break it down even more, eating 150-170 pounds of sugar in one year is also equivalent to consuming 1/4 to 1/2 pounds of sugar each day. That is 30-60 teaspoons of sugar in a 24 hour period. Not convinced that one person can easily consume this amount of sugar?  Think again… it is not that difficult to achieve.

Here are some more numbers:

Sugar, soda and math

There are 120 teaspoons in one pound of sugar. You wouldn't eat 22 packs of sugar. Why are you drinking them?This means 1/4 pound of sugar is equivalent to 30 teaspoons and 1/2 pound of sugar is equivalent to 60 teaspoons.

An average 12-ounce can of soda contains about 8 teaspoons of simple sugar. It only takes four 12-ounce cans of sodas to equal 1/4 pound of sugar! For some people, drinking this amount of soda in one day is not a difficult task to accomplish. For many, it is a daily habit.

This is calculating only the amount of sugar found in soda. Just think about the other sources of sugar in our diets. Americans consume refined sugars in numerous forms – there are the obvious sugary culprits such as:

However, sugar is hidden in so much of what we consume every day. Sweeteners such as high fructose corn syrup can be found in:

  • barbecue sauces
  • breads
  • canned-fruits
  • cookies
  • crackers
  • frozen dinners
  • hot dogs
  • ketchup
  • marinades
  • peanut butter
  • pickles
  • salad dressing
  • soup
  • vegetables

…and several other food products. Sugar surrounds us.

It is not only a drug, it is a poison too

Some classify refined sugar as a drug and poison because it is depleted of its life forces, proteins, minerals and vitamins. Too much sugar is harmful to the body and promotes inflammation and disease.

We have all heard about the dangers of consuming too much sugar in our diets – it can lead to organ malfunction and hormone disruption.

When these systems are disturbed and unbalanced, several other pathological conditions manifest such as:

  • allergies
  • arthritis
  • behavioral problems
  • cancer/tumors
  • degenerative/organ disease
  • depression
  • diabetes
  • immune disruption
  • migraines
  • mental illness
  • obesity
  • tooth decay

How does eating sugar relate to being ill?

If you are sick several times throughout the year, you may want to look at your sugar consumption because excess sugar consumption depresses your body’s immunity.

  • Studies have shown that consuming 75 to 100 grams of simple sugars (about 20 teaspoons of sugar – the amount found in two-and-a-half average 12 ounce cans of soda) can suppress the body’s immune responses considerably.
  • These sugars are known to create a 40 to 50% percent drop in the ability of white blood cells to kill bacteria and germs within the body.
  • The immune-suppressing effect of sugar starts less than thirty minutes after ingestion and may last for five hours.
  • By consuming 150 to 170 pounds of simple sugars each year, a person may have up to 80,000 hours of immune suppression!


With the average American consuming 150-170 pounds of sugar annually, I am not surprised to read that worldwide obesity has more than doubled since 1980 and that more than 35 percent of adults across the United States are categorized as obese.

According to a report from Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, if America’s obesity trend continues at its current pace, all 50 states could have obesity rates above 44 percent by 2030. There are obviously other factors that play a role in these statistics, but I am pretty sure our over consumption of sugar has a lot to do with it.

I don’t know about you, but to me, this all makes sugar sound “not so sweet” after all…

What are your thoughts?

  • Do you fit into this category of “average American”? Do you think you eat this much sugar?
  • Does it shock you that the average American consumes 150-170 pounds of sugar each year? …Or are you not surprised? Why or why not?
  • Do you have any thoughts about this “not so sweet” predicament?
  • What do you think of my article, “Not So Sweet – The Average American Consumes 150-170 Pounds Of Sugar Each Year?”

Please add your comments below – I would love to hear and learn from your opinions!

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  1. Anderson GH. “Sugars and health: A review“. Source: Nutrition Research.Volume: 17 Issue: 9  Pages: 1485-1498 DOI: 10.1016/S0271-5317(97)00139-5   Published: SEP 1997
  2. Johnson, Rachel, Appel, Lawrence, Brands, Michael. “Dietary Sugars Intake and Cardiovascular Health: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association.” 2009;120:1011-1020, published online before print August 24 2009, doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.109.192627.
  3. Price, W— Nutrition and Physical Degeneration 1997
  4. Ruxton C. H. S.; Gardner E. J.; McNnulty H. M. “Is Sugar Consumption Detrimental to Health? A Review of the Evidence 19952006” Source: Critical Reviews in Food Science and NutritionVolume: 50 Issue: 1 Pages: 1-19   Article Number: PII 918157476 DOI: 10.1080/10408390802248569 Published: 2010
  5. USDA. “Profiling Food Consumption in America.” United States Department of Agriculture. Sowers, Robert. 2010.
  6. “Role of Sugars in Human Neutrophilic Phagocytosis.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1973, 26pp. 1, 180-4).






Author Details
Founder and CEO of BambooCore
Jennifer is a certified NASM Personal Trainer, MovNat Trainer, and a C.H.E.K Holistic Lifestyle/Nutrition Coach. As the Founder and CEO of BambooCore Fitness, she delivers sustainable lifestyle, nutrition and movement strategies to people looking to improve their health and performance.

When she is not slaying fat and building muscle, Jennifer can be found trekking barefoot, traveling, cooking and refining her photography skills. She also enjoys reading and writing about food culture, history and the science of human movement.
Founder and CEO of BambooCore
Jennifer is a certified NASM Personal Trainer, MovNat Trainer, and a C.H.E.K Holistic Lifestyle/Nutrition Coach. As the Founder and CEO of BambooCore Fitness, she delivers sustainable lifestyle, nutrition and movement strategies to people looking to improve their health and performance.

When she is not slaying fat and building muscle, Jennifer can be found trekking barefoot, traveling, cooking and refining her photography skills. She also enjoys reading and writing about food culture, history and the science of human movement.


  1. Jen

    Beyond the total amount of sugar consumed is the issue of how much is consumed at one point. Sugar quickly overwhelms your body’s ability to metabolize it properly if you consume too much at once. This is why I am shocked when I see parents giving their children juice, thinking it’s healthy. You might as well give them a bottle of whiskey! I do eat about 30g a day but I take it in very small doses. In fact, I find if I eat a lot at once (like a donut) I may feel a mental effect almost like from alcohol. But sugar is very big business and our government is heavily invested in not scaring people about sugar. Notice it’s the only thing on the ingredient label that does not list the percentage of daily allowance! So articles like this are very helpful -thank you!

  2. Victory Corwin

    I have been sugar-free for almost a year and a half. It has changed my life! I approach my sugar consumption as a substance addiction. I check the labels of every thing I buy and if I see refined sugar on the list of ingredienta in any of its forms, I do not buy it. Since my abstinence date, I have had an increase of daily energy and concentration and a decrease in amount of anti-depressants I need, amount other many wonderful gifts. And at this point, I just don’t miss sugar. Food tastes better, sweeter and more flavorful without it.

    Thank you for this article.

  3. Chuck

    Thank you for a nice article, but you should fix a typo – change “An average 12-ounce can of soda contains about 8 ounces of simple sugar” to “An average 12-ounce can of soda contains about 8 teaspoons of simple sugar”.

    1. Thanks for referring to my article – I appreciate it and I will be sure to check out your post. 🙂 Thanks for visiting!

  4. joe

    Your statistics on sugar seem wrong. 4lb/yr was 300 years ago, not 100. Where are you pulling this from?

    1. Hi Joe, this article was written a few years ago. There are definitely conflicting reports floating around re: sugar consumption data. According to my research, 4-6 pounds/year was during the early 1800s – I have since edited my article to make this more clear. My references are listed below my article. Care to share what resource(s) you are referencing when you state that 4lb/yr was 300 years ago? Thanks!

  5. Jim Willis

    EXCELLENT article ! Thank you ! I am living proof of this. For years I got sicker and sicker and no one knew why, I visited multiple doctors and spent $1000s to get help. It was New Years 2010 that my wife and I were so desperate to do anything, that I started a diet recommended for my Mitral Valve Prolapse – a LOW/NO SUGAR diet. As a junk food junkee, I was very hesitant, but thank God I did this. I cut sugar out of my life (as well as caffeine), only ate Whole Grains (as white breads break down to sugar faster), no sodas, no candy, no fast food. It wasn’t easy, but I went from feeling “death” nearby to losing 40 pounds (without even exercising) and feeling fantastic ! All in a short time. I began feeling a difference in only 3 weeks, then by 6 months I could literally feel my body healing and fixing itself. I’ve never been one to “have a mission” or whatever, but now I feel the need to encourage everyone to cut the sugar !! I used to think health-freaks were nuts and that I could eat whatever I wanted to, but now I believe that sugar is poisonous in the amounts we Americans take in.
    So yeh, I just wanted to share my experience. Hopefully others will be helped and encouraged to drop the sugar as well.

    1. Thanks for sharing your kick-ass story, Jim! I admire your tenacity and commitment. It’s inspiring to hear that you are feeling fantastic with your new lifestyle and I love that you are sharing your story with others. As Gandhi once said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” Be proud of all of your accomplishments and continue to inspire others throughout this wonderful journey!

    2. kenny guess

      I was never a big consumer of sugar but did eat my share of it until last year when I watched a documentary titled “Sugar Coated’. Since then I stopped it by 95%. Also changed to a plant based diet and reduced dairy by 95%. (still, eat a few eggs) . My blood profile improved greatly in only 6 months. Total cholesterol dropped 22 points from 193 to 171, LDL dropped 19 points from 109 to 90, glucose went from 108 to 99 and my PSA fell from 2.3 to 2.0. My doctor was impressed and so was I. It’s all about the food, no doubt. Of course, I exercise often and always have ( 69 years young). Sugar is the cigarette of the 21 century!

      1. Hi Kenny,

        Thanks for sharing your experience with the Bamboo Core family! You’ve made quite the lifestyle change and it looks like it is working very well. You have made fantastic progress thus far – nice job!! It’s helpful for readers to read a real-life example of how biometrics can change (for the better) when one changes his or her ways of eating. Impressive! I also love your quote… “Sugar is the cigarette of the 21st century!” … brilliant! You have made a drastic change in your diet – what has proven to be the biggest challenge doing so? And how have you overcome this challenge so that you can embrace success with your program? Please keep us posted on your progress and take care!

  6. jimbo

    Why is cancer not listed? Excessive sugar consumption is a huge contributor there.

  7. Elizabeth Smith

    As so many people have said before, moderation is key. I’m not going to give up sugar complat. But I’ve discovered that eating mainly a low salt diet. Consisting mostly of home cooked meals does the trick.

  8. David

    I consume 350-400 pounds of white sugar per year just in my tea alone approx 20 cups of tea per day for at least 4 years.. It’s a conservative estimate cause it doesn’t include food or other drinks…so far I feel ok and have no plans to change my diet…so how long will it take to have some kind of terminal organ failure you think?

    1. jimbo

      Well David, just let us know when you find out.

  9. Kate

    This scares me greatly. I am allergic to corn syrup so I stay away from a lot of foods like the ones listed above but it stills scares me what I consume. Thank you so much for posting this!

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