Beyond "Fed Up": Take Steps to Reduce Sugar in Your Diet


About 365 people attended the University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center's "Heart Smart" program at The Loft Cinema in Tucson on Oct. 21. A panel of experts, moderated by Nancy K. Sweitzer, MD, PhD, director of the UA Sarver Heart Center, discussed the health benefits of eating a plant-based, whole foods, minimally processed diet. The special screening of the movie "Fed Up" documented the amount of sugar hidden in the Standard American Diet (SAD) that emphasizes refined and processed foods that are high in dairy and animal products and light in fruits and vegetables.

So what's your next step? Share your ideas for reducing your sugar intake and other ways you're improving your diet. Send an email to We'll ask our dietitians to recommend some of the best submissions and post them here and on the Sarver Heart Center Facebook page.

Here are some ideas from UA Sarver Heart Center:

  • Read labels to look for sugar content.
  • Swap flavored yogurt (24 grams) for low-fat, plain yogurt (9 grams) and add whole fruit chunks.
  • Swap sweetened beverages (55 grams) for water (0 grams).
  • Cook more whole foods and refrigerate/freeze leftovers to replace pre-packaged frozen meals.
  • Mix oil, vinegar and herbs instead of using packaged salad dressing.
  • Shop at farmers’ markets to buy more fresh, locally-grown foods.
  • Move toward a plant-based diet and run away from the SAD (Standard American Diet – heavy in refined and processed foods, dairy and animal products; light in fruits and vegetables).

Facts About Sugar

The average American adult consumes about 22 teaspoons (88 grams) of sugar each day.
The World Health Organization recommends no more than 6 teaspoons (25 grams) of total sugar each day, including fruit and added sugar. The American Heart Association recommends people distinguish between naturally occurring sugars in fruits and added sugars. Women should limit added sugar to 5 teaspoons (20 grams). Adult men should limit added sugar to 9 teaspoons (36 grams) and children should be limited to 3 teaspoons (12 grams) per day.

Helpful Links

"The Standard American Diet in 3 Simple Charts"

"9 Surprising Foods with More Sugar than a Krispy Kreme Doughnut"