Added sugars are sugar carbohydrates (caloric sweeteners) added to food and beverages during their production (industrial processing). This type of sugar is chemically indistinguishable from naturally occurring sugars, but the term "added sugar" has become increasingly used in nutrition and medicine to help identify foods characterized by added energy. Added sugars have no nutritional value, only adding "empty calories". Consumption of added sugar is positively correlated with high calorie intake, and through it, with excess weight and obesity. Added sugars are also known as extrinsic, with naturally occurring sugars known as intrinsic.
The consumption of added sugars has been positively associated with multiple measures known to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease for adolescents as well as adults. Added sugars are also a risk factor for type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, as well as increase in body weight and obesity.
In the United States, the most popular types of added sugar are sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup, both primarily composed of about half glucose and half fructose. Other types of added sugar include: all types of beet and cane sugars, all types of corn syrup (including solids), malt syrup, maple syrup, pancake syrup, fructose sweetener, liquid fructose, fruit juice concentrate, honey, and molasses. The most common types of foods containing added sugars are sweetened beverages, including most soft drinks. In the US, 20% of daily calorie consumption comes from that single source. The World Health Organization recommends that this number should be no higher than 10%. 13% of American population receives over 25% of their calories from added sugars, which often means they are not getting enough of other key nutrients.
Data collected in multiple nationwide surveys in the US from the mid-1970s show that the daily intake of added sugars has increased by over 35% in the nation between 1977–1978 and 1994–1996. However, new data collected between 1999 and 2008 show that the intake of added sugars has declined by 23.4%, with declines occurring in all age, ethnic, and income groups. Welsh et al. note that the decrease in added sugar consumption in the US is related to decrease in the consumption of sweetened beverages, encouraged by government health awareness initiatives and other programs.
Added sugar in addition to processed foods, has radically changed the American diet. There are roughly 600,000 food items in the United States and eighty percent have added sugar (Monroe and Soechtig). The American Heart Association daily recommended intake of sugar for men is no more than 150 calories or nine teaspoons per day and for women no more than 100 calories or six teaspoons per day of added sugar.