Americans say they are on a sugar detox.A Reuters/Ipsos poll of 1,883 adults living in the United States, conducted on 15-21 January, finds that 58 percent say they tried to limit sugar in their diets in the previous 30 days. That is higher than the percentage of those who were targeting reductions in their intake of calories, sodium, fats, cholesterol or carbohydrates. Only 39 percent said they had not tried to cut sugar intake.Last month, the US government said that Americans should seek to keep their intake of added sugars, which is sugar added during processing or preparation of foods, to less than 10 percent of daily calories, the first time it had recommended a specific limit.That would translate to a cut of about one-third for the average American, but a significantly higher reduction for teenagers, who eat about 17 per cent of their calories in added sugars.Of the people surveyed, 50 per cent said they have tried to cut down on calories, 48 per cent sodium, 46 per cent for both saturated fats and trans fat/trans fatty acid, 43 per cent cholesterol and 40 per cent carbohydrates.And while the number of people who weren’t planning cuts in calories, sodium and fats roughly matched those hoping to reduce intake, just 39 per cent of respondents said they had no intention of cutting down on sugar.
To be sure, the survey asked people about their attempts to limit sugar, not about their success rate in doing so, and notoriously short-lived New Year’s resolutions may account for some of the responses. There is also no directly comparable poll for previous years.But the poll results may reflect the impact of the increasing concerns expressed by health advocates about links between high-sugar diets and levels of obesity. This “war on sugar” has grown in scope over the last few years beyond just sodas and candy to packaged foods like cereal and pasta sauce.Google Trends data show that online search interest in the term “added sugar” is on the rise. It reached the height of its popularity in the United States last month, data going back to 2004 show. Searches for cholesterol, sodium or saturated fat exceeded those for sugar, but their popularity was trending lower or stable. Searches for “is sugar bad” were significantly more popular than the same searches for cholesterol, sodium, and saturated fat.A spokeswoman for the Sugar Association, which represents US sugar companies and grower-cooperatives, said that limits on sugar are “the low hanging fruit in the fight against obesity,” adding that the real culprit behind obesity has been a rise in calories from things other than sugar since 1970.