HealthTrip: The Not So Sweet Side of Added Sugars

by Liz Stovall, Division Manager- Fitness and Wellness

A healthy lifestyle includes how much we exercise, what we eat and what we drink. People often know the exact calorie count for foods they consume, but don’t know how many calories are in their drinks. Let’s look at a brief history of soda size. In 1916, Coca-Cola was sold in six and a half ounce bottles. In 1950, the six and a half ounce bottle was still the standard size but the 10 and 12-ounce bottle also appealed to consumers. Today the 12-ounce can is considered the regular size. This size is getting even larger as vending machines offer 20 and 24-ounce bottles and convenience stores sell 32 and 44-ounce cups.

Sugar, used to sweeten the taste of most sodas, has a lot of calories. These calories are termed “empty” because they offer no nutritional value. When looking at the nutrition facts label on a 12-ounce can of soda, you’ll see it contains approximately 40 grams of sugar. One teaspoon of sugar from the sugar bowl equals four grams. This means you are drinking 10 teaspoons of added sugar in every 12-ounce can of soda.

Here’s a quick overview of the amount of added sugar found in a variety of drinks consumed by Americans:

  • 20-ounce bottle of Coca-Cola contains 64 grams of sugar.
    • This equates to 16 teaspoons of added sugar, the same amount of sugar found in five Little Debbie Swiss Rolls.
  • 15-ounce bottle of Minute-Maid Apple Juice contains 49 grams of sugar or 12 teaspoons of added sugar.
    • The same amount of sugar found in 10 Oreos.
  • 23-ounce can of Arizona Green Tea with Ginseng and Honey contains 51 grams of sugar or the same amount of sugar in 30 Hersey Kisses.
    • This equals 13 teaspoons from the sugar bowl.
  • One Starbucks grande Iced Vanilla Latte contains 28 grams of sugar.
    • This equals the sugar in two and a half Krispy Kreme doughnuts.


AHA cut out added sugars infographic. Click it to see more!

The American Heart Association recommends limiting the amount of added sugars consumed. For most women, that’s no more than 100 calories per day, or about six teaspoons of sugar. For men, it’s 150 calories per day, or about nine teaspoons. Check out the AHA infographic by clicking on the image.

Of all the liquids we could drink, water is the very best for quenching our thirst. And, water is the ultimate diet drink because it has no calories. Replacing sugary drinks with water may help with achieving a healthy weight. In addition, our bodies need water to function. Water moves nutrients through our system and keeps us hydrated. Sip smarter and learn about healthier choices with this infographic.