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Middlesex-London Health Unit

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The not so sweet truth. 
Too much sugar, especially added or free sugar, can have a negative impact on our health. Too much sugar may contribute to weight gain, increased risk of dental cavities, and increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.2


Sugary Drinks Calculator

Can you guess how many teaspoons of free sugar are in pop, energy drinks, sport drinks, milk, etc.? Use the Sugary Drinks Calculator to find out!

Sugary Drinks Calculator

Curriculum Activities and Resource Guide

Did you know? 

  • The average Canadian eats about 105 grams or 26 teaspoons of sugar a day.1
  • Sugar provides over 20% of our total energy (or caloric) intake for the day.1

What is Sugar?2

Sugar is a simple carbohydrate that provides energy or calories, but no other nutrients. Some foods, like milk, grains, fruits and vegetables, contain natural sugars. Although, these foods contain natural sugars, they also contain other important nutrients, like fibre, vitamins and minerals.

Free sugars include sugars that are added to foods and beverages by the manufacturer, cook or consumer, and sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates. (They do not include naturally occurring sugars found in whole fruit or vegetables or sugar in unsweetened milk).2


Telehealth Ontario

To respond to your nutrition and healthy eating questions, you may call Telehealth Ontario to speak to a Registered Dietitian toll free at 1-866-797-0000 from 9-5 pm Monday to Friday. Services are available in in both English and French, with translation support for some other languages.


Added sugars are sugars that are added to foods and drinks by the manufacturer during processing or preparation. Additions by the manufacturer include: sugar; honey; syrups like corn syrup; fruit juices; and fruit concentrates.

Free and added sugars have been linked to health problems. One teaspoon of honey, maple syrup, agave, or brown sugar all contain about one teaspoon of sugar.

Food Sources of Sugar in Canadian’s Diets

  • More than one third (35%) of the sugar in our diets comes from foods like pop, candy, pastries and sugar sweetened drinks.1 These foods also tend to have low nutritional value.
  • Teenage males get almost half (46%) of the sugar in their diet from “other foods”.1, which consists of items such as soft drinks, salad dressings and candy.2
  • Sugar is often hidden in foods, like canned/jarred pasta sauces, condiments, like ketchup and barbeque sauce, fat-free salad dressings, store bought cereals, flavoured milks and flavoured fortified soy beverages.
  • The following words on an ingredient list mean sugar has been added: sugar, brown sugar, cane sugar, beet sugar, sugar/glucose-fructose, dextrose, fructose, high fructose corn syrup, glucose, maltose, sucrose, fruit juice concentrates, honey, molasses, maltodextrin, agave syrup, malt syrup, maple syrup, and syrup.

How much sugar do we need?

The World Health Organization recommends that children and adults decrease their free sugar intake to less than 10% of their total energy intake.2 This is equal to about 6-12 teaspoons of free sugar per day. Reducing free sugar intake even more to less than 5% of our daily energy intake or about 3-6 teaspoons per day would be even better for our health.2

Tips to Decrease Sugar Intake

  1. Be Sugar Savvy.
    Choose water or unflavoured milks and unsweetened fortified soy beverages most often. Avoid sugary drinks, like pop and fruit juice.
  2. Choose unprocessed foods most often. 
    Avoid foods high in sugar, like pastries and candy. Choose more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Choose the whole fruit instead of fruit juices.
  3. Watch your condiments. 
    Condiments, like ketchup, barbeque sauce and teriyaki sauce, contain at least one teaspoon of sugar in every tablespoon. Try flavouring your food with sugar-free alternatives, like herbs and spices.
  4. Read the Nutrition Facts table
    Look for foods that are lower in sugar. Make sure you compare the serving size on the Nutrition Facts table to your portion size.
  5. Make your own
    Make your own lower sugar versions of foods that may be higher in sugar, like granola bars, muffins, breads and salad dressings.
Date of creation: September 18, 2016
Last modified on: December 17, 2019


1Langlois, K, Garriguet, D. (2011). Sugar consumption among Canadians of all ages. Health Reports. 22(3), 1-5.
2Guideline: Sugars intake for adults and children. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2015.