Nutrition · Pregnancy

How much sugar is too much?

Silver spoon full of sugar

For adults and children, too much sugar intake could lead to increased weight gain and cavities.  Sugary foods may also replace foods that are higher in nutrients making them a less healthy choice.

In pregnancy, excess sugar can cause the same problems.  If excess sugar intake causes weight gain above the recommended amount in pregnancy you are at an increased risk of having a larger baby, caesarean delivery, and keeping excess weight after pregnancy.

Recommendations from Health Canada are to limit foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt.  But in 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) made more specific recommendations around limiting added sugar.

The WHO recommends limiting sugar to less than 10% of your total calorie intake of the day.  

If you eat 2000 calories a day this would equal less than 50 g of sugar per day or about 12 teaspoons.

A further reduction of sugar to less than 5% of your total calorie intake will provide further health benefits, this is roughly 25 g of sugar per day or about 6 teaspoons.  This amount is for added sugars and does not include sugars that occur naturally in fruit, milk, yogurt and some vegetables.

The average Canadian consumes more than double the recommended amount or about 110 g of sugar a day. This value however accounts for all sources of sugar including natural sugars.

Top sources of added sugar in the Canadian diet are:

  • soft drinksHandful of colourful candy
  • white or brown sugar
  • confectionery like candy, chocolate, cookies and pastries
  • other sugars like honey, syrups, and molasses
  • fruit drinks (with added sugars)

Reducing intake of these foods will help reduce added sugars from your diet.  Health Canada is also currently revising nutrition labeling on food to make it easier to determine how much added sugar is in your food.

For more info, contact Toronto Public Health.

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