The Health Dangers of Sugary Drinks . . . Teach or Tax???

June 23rd, 2016

Last week, Philadelphia became the first major city to pass a sugar tax bill.  Yes . . . it’s true! Starting January 1, Philadelphians (well, soda distributors first) will pay a 1.5 cent-per-ounce tax for any sugary beverage purchased whether it’s canned, bottled or squirted from a fountain bar. And, trust me; this will affect thousands of drinks from sodas to sports drinks, energy drinks, and iced teas, bottled coffee and fake water.

Wait . . . What?  How the heck did this bill pass” I mean, nothing like this has ever happened even though the Center For Science in the Public Interest has repeatedly referred to soda as “liquid candy” and most Americans consume more than twice the recommended amount of sugar and, worst of all, many children regularly consume 40 pounds of sugar EACH year.  I’ve been teaching the dangers of sugar over-consumption for 25 years so I’ve watched other sugar tax bills fail (Richmond, California and Vermont) because the American Beverage Association spends hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting every political campaign that remotely suggests sugar as the bad guy.

So how did the Philadelphia City Council do it? Well, they took a different approach.  Instead of focusing on the “well-known” fact that sugary soda is unhealthy, they promoted the tax increase as a way of generating thousands of dollars for early childhood education, expanding pre-kindergarten programs as well as offering tax incentives to businesses that sell or promote healthy beverages.

As an anti-sugar-kind-of-person (duh), I’m happy about Philadelphia’s sugar tax. Even though, I would prefer to teach instead of tax, the end result will (hopefully) be the same . . . decrease sugar intake while increasing money for education. Both of these measures will ultimately decrease childhood obesity, childhood diabetes, heart disease, tooth decay and, just as important, increase the public’s health knowledge about sugary soda.


October 23rd, 2014

Repeat after me . . . SUGAR IS TOXIC!

Does the word “telomeres” ring a bell? If not, let me tell you why you need to know about them.  Telomeres are the tiny caps at the ends of our chromosomes, and they are an important marker of a person’s age.  In other words, as we get older, they naturally get shorter.

So what does “telomere length” have to do with sugar, you might be afraid to ask?

Sugar over-consumption shortens the length of a cell’s telomere which leads to cell aging which leads to overall premature aging! According to a report (October 16, 2014) in the Journal of Public Health, the study entitled “Soda and Cell Aging: Associations between Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption and Leukocyte Telomere Length in Healthy Adults From the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys” revealed a link between sugary soda intake and shorter telomeres!

It turns out that drinking one 20-ounce soda a day (16.9 teaspoons of sugar) can add more than four years of telomere aging. That’s the same diminished telomere length as a smoker’s!

The reason I asked if the word “telomere” rang a bell is because last month it was reported that meditating, yoga and having a positive outlook can protect a cell’s telomere length by increasing the enzyme “telomerase.”

This is a no-brainer!! BE HAPPY AND STOP SUGAR!!

YIKES – one snack can be ALOT of sugar

June 30th, 2013

Whoaaaa – I know it’s hard to believe but one simple snack can be three times the amount of sugar that’s considered an “ok” daily intake amount.  I say “ok” because there really isn’t a recommended daily “healthy” amount since sugar in the form of Sucrose or High Fructose Corn Syrup isn’t needed in any amounts.  In other words, added sugars have zero nutritional value.

Wait . . . don’t look below just yet because I want you to know what is considered an “ok” daily intake first. According to the American Heart Association, women should limit their daily sugar consumption to 6 teaspoons (or 24 grams), and men should limit intake to no more than 9 teaspoons (or 36 grams).  And kids . . . those humans who love, love, love sugar . . . should consume even less per day.  Preschoolers – no more than 4 teaspoons (or 16 grams); elementary school age kids – no more than 3 teaspoons (or 12 grams); and pre-teens and teenagers – no more than 5 to 8 teaspoons (or 20 to 32 grams).

Now get ready to be shocked and check out the snack below; a familiar one consumed at baseball games, town parks, amusment parks or anywhere there might be a concession stand.  A Hawaiian Punch drink, a bag of Skittles candy and a lollipop could add 31.9 teaspoons of sugar and 595 calories to your (or your kid’s) diet if consumed all at once.  Crazy, shocking stuff!!!

BD and HPunch 004101_0002tootsie roll



31.8 teaspoons


Simple math!!!

June 17th, 2013

The nutrient label on your favorite drink is helpful, right?  For example, the label on a 20-ounce bottle of Hawaiian Punch says it has 29 grams of sugar per serving. Good information, right?  I mean . . . grams are a whole lot less than ounces, and Hawaiian Punch is almost juice, right?

Well, I hate to tell you, it’s not completely right.  Food/beverage labeling is definitely a step in the right direction but very few people can look at a label and quickly know if the item is a healthy choice or not.

Here’s the reality.  A 20-ounce bottle of Hawaiian Punch actually contains over 18 teaspoons of sugar.  Yes, 18 teaspoons!  Imagine adding 18 teaspoons of sugar to your morning coffee.  You wouldn’t do it, and you wouldn’t knowingly give your children that much sugar either.

Because we’ve all grown up with teaspoons in our kitchens, we can visualize how much a teaspoon amount is, and we know without a doubt that 18 of them are a lot!  A teaspoon is a much more easily understood and recognized measurement than a gram. Can you visualize how much a gram is?  Probably not.

Remember . . .  “one” teaspoon of sugar is approximately equal to four grams of sugar.  Simple math!!!

Up and Running again!!

June 13th, 2013

Finally, my health blog, A Teaspoon of Sugar, is up and running again. I’ll be posting sugar levels for many popular food and beverage items every week.  Meanwhile, take a minute and read through my previous posts and if you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

I’m back!!!

March 7th, 2012

Hi everyone. Please follow me on twitter @Teaspoon_sugar!!!

A Teaspoon of Sugar

October 5th, 2010




One teaspoon = approximately 4 grams




A Teaspoon of Sugar provides straightforward, proactive information on sugar metabolism and how too much sugar intake can lead to weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, learning difficulties, acne, tooth decay and poor athletic performance.  This blog is a tool, a visual guideblog, an educational aide, and a practical support method for determining, without a doubt, whether or not a consumable has too much sugar in it.

Sugar Intake and Muscle Development

September 28th, 2010

Too much sugar intake leads to high insulin levels in the body.  High insulin levels will suppress two important groups of hormones – glucagons and growth hormones.  These hormones are needed for burning fat and promoting proper muscle development.  In other words; when there’s too much sugar in the body, there’s also too much insulin; too much insulin means too little glucagons and growth hormones.  Too little glucagons and growth hormones causes the body to “forget the muscle.”

No Fear Super Energy 16 fl. oz.

September 9th, 2010

16.15 tspno fear super energy







No Fear Super Energy – 16 fl. oz.

Serving Size = 8 fl. oz.

Servings per container = 2

Calories per container = 260

Sugar grams per container = 66 grams

Teaspoons of Sugar per container = approximately 16.5 teaspoons of sugar





= approximately 4 grams of sugar

Tropicana Pink Lemonade 20 fl oz

August 31st, 2010

16.15 tsptropicana pink lemonade


Tropicana Pink Lemonade 20 fl. oz.

Serving Size = 8 fl. oz.

Servings per container = 2.5

Calories per container = 250

Sugar grams per container = 65 grams

Teaspoons of Sugar per container = approximately 16.25 teaspoons of sugar