You’ve probably heard over the last few years there’s too much consumption of sugar. The average American eats a whopping 152 pounds a year! Sugar is a known risk factor for obesity and adult onset diabetes, dementia, cirrhosis of the liver; the latest research has determined that it is also a risk factor for heart disease.

A Leading Heart Disease Risk Factor

In 2001, I saw a teenage boy, with very vague symptoms—fatigue, difficult sleeping, achy muscles. While his exam was normal, I conducted a series of routine lab sets. For the first time, I made the diagnosis of adult onset (Type 2) diabetes in a 17 year old. I was flabberghasted.

Eating too much sugar has been linked to an increased risk of developing heart disease that was assumed to be due to obesity. However, a new study indicates that too much sugar is not only making us fat, it’s also making us sick.

A new study published in the Journal of American Medical Association’s Archives of Internal Medicine found that 71.4% of American adults consume far more than the recommended 10% of their daily caloric intake from sugars added to foods and drinks, which increases their risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

The added sugars were defined as “all sugars used in processed or prepared foods, such as sugar-sweetened beverages, grain-based desserts, fruit drinks, dairy desserts, candy, ready-to-eat cereals, and yeast breads, but not naturally occurring sugar, such as in fruits and fruit juices.”

Between 1988 and 1994, Americans got 15.7% of their calories from added sugars, on average. That figure rose to 16.8% in the years 1999 to 2004, then dropped to 14.9% between 2005 and 2010, the researchers found.

According to the study, among U.S. adults, the daily calories from added sugar increased from 15.7 percent between the years 1988-1994 to 16.8 percent in the years from 1999-2004. However, this percentage decreased to just fewer than 15 percent between 2005 and 2010. More than 70 percent of adults consumed 10 percent or more calories from added sugar, and 10 percent of adults consumed 25 percent or more in the years 2005-2010.

In the follow-up that came about 14 years later, the researchers documented 831 deaths via heart disease. Specifically, study participants whose diet consisted of 17 percent to 21 percent of their daily calories from added sugar experienced a 38 percent greater risk of dying from heart disease when compared to others whose diet consisted of 8 percent or less of added sugars. Even more surprising, when the added sugar consumption was greater than 21 percent, researchers were shocked to discover the risk of cardiovascular death “more than doubled.”