8 (More) Products With More Sugar Than You Think!

Even though I know refined sugar has been added to an exorbitant amount of food products, I was still a little taken aback by this statistic…

“There are 600,000 food items in America. 80% of them have added sugar.” – Fed Up Movie

So, since sugar has been dubbed as “probably the most dangerous part of our current diet, I want to once again share some products that honestly have way more added sugar than one would think. Obviously we all know many of these items below are total junk food, but there’s just something about seeing the quantity of sugar piled up high right next to them. And since this is a follow up post be sure to check out the original “More Sugar Than You Think!” article to read more on the following topics: The Problem With Sugar, Added Sugar Vs. Naturally Occuring Sugar (big difference!), and Why Artificial Sweeteners are No Better.

8 (more) products with more sugar than you think on 100 Days of #RealFood

Before we get started though, here is a handy dandy chart to help you figure out how many teaspoons of sugar are in your food products:

How many teaspoons in a gram of sugar from 100 Days of #RealFood
The recommended daily allowance of added sugar is six teaspoons (24 grams) for women, nine (36 grams) for men, and three (12 grams) for children.

(click to enlarge full, printable version)

1. Quaker Instant Oatmeal Packets

I like to pick on Quaker Oatmeal, but it’s not because I have anything against just straight-up whole-grain oatmeal. The problem with Quaker is the crazy amount of processed additives they use including half your dose (for women) of recommended added sugar for the day – already just from breakfast. And if you’re a child? Just this one meal alone will reach the recommended added sugar limit. So, I say make it yourself with just plain oats, cinnamon, and a little drizzle of honey (if anything). oatmeal packets

2. BBQ Sauce

I think condiments are often overlooked, but with a serving size of 2 tablespoons the sugar in these products can add up fast. I realize living without BBQ sauce (or ketchup for that matter) is a little unrealistic, but just be mindful of how much you are using and how exactly these products are sweetened (many use high fructose corn syrup). I personally love to make my own BBQ from scratch with a natural sweetener instead of refined sugar and, oh boy, the taste is far superior! My recipe will be in my upcoming cookbook. BBQ Sauce

3. Kool-Aid

Getting my kids to drink and enjoy water was a process. It took at least 6 months, but they finally turned the corner and it’s now their go-to drink after playing outside. So I get it, juices and kool-aid are a crowd pleaser, but when the recommended daily allowance of sugar for kids is just 3 teaspoons I say skip the sugary beverages – or at the very least water them down. And don’t be fooled into thinking the “sugar free” version is any better. In my opinion those are (unfortunately) even worse!

4. Cake Frosting

What’s startling about this one is that the 4 1/2 teaspoons of sugar doesn’t even include the cake. If this isn’t a good reminder to eat sweets and other treats in true moderation then I don’t know what is!
chocolate frosting

5. Jell-O

Can we all agree there’s not a whole lot of nutritional value going on here? Food Babe recently did an investigation all about this childhood staple. If the crazy amounts of artificial dyes and other additives didn’t already scare you away, please take a look at the added sugar and rethink your stance! And once again, don’t be fooled by the “sugar free” version either.

6. Twix Bar

If anything, I think this one is a good yard stick when looking at the other products on this page. Let’s think about it – half this candy bar has the same amount of sugar as that oatmeal breakfast above. And the beverage below has even more sugar than the whole bar! We all know candy bars are notorious for being sugar-loaded, so what does that tell us about the others?

7. Red Bull

If you’re feeling low on energy the last thing you need to do is reach for a Red Bull (or anything highly processed for that matter)! All that sugar – more than what’s in the candy bar above – might give you a brief burst of energy, but it’s not what your body needs in the long run. I used to get those afternoon crashes myself, but shortly after cutting out all things highly processed (and starting to depend more on whole foods – including lots of fresh produce) I couldn’t believe how much more energy I had. Just give the real food lifestyle a go for a few weeks and see how you feel!
red bull

8. Pepsi

I have quite a few friends who eat fairly healthy, but still do an occasional soda – or worse – have a spouse that just can’t kick their addiction. I am a firm believer that soda with real sugar is far better than the fake stuff you’ll find in the diet version – BUT – this bottle of Pepsi has more than 17 teaspoons of sugar! That’s more than a third a cup, and quite honestly just crazy to consume in one sitting!

Let’s not forget, people are eating (on average) four times the amount of sugar that’s recommended and this alone can be detrimental to our health. Plus, as I eluded to above, Mark Bittman says, “Added sugar . . . is the tobacco of the twenty-first century” and “probably the most dangerous part of our current diet.” So it might be a good time to rethink that soda habit.


Have any products recently surprised you with the amount of sugar they contain? Please share in the comments.

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102 thoughts on “8 (More) Products With More Sugar Than You Think!”

  1. When my children were little my mom amd mil would make koolaid for the kids and they actually thought that it had less sugar than soda.

  2. We’re already probably not quite as bad as the average family when it comes to sugar but still eat way too much. I have a dumb question, though. How can a 1/2 cup serving of jello have 4 3/4 tsps of sugar when the entire package is one several tablespoons and the entire packet probably makes a bunch of servings (I’m guessing 8-10, although it’s been a few years since I made jello). I’m not questionning the article- I’m just confused of how it’s possible. Even if the box only makes 6 servings, that’s 28 tsps of sugar, and I know you can’t fit that much into a single box. And the only ingredient you add when making it is water.

    1. There are 85 grams (g) in one small box of Jell-O. One box makes four servings and each serving has 18g (4.5 tsp.) sugar 18×4 = 72g (18 tsp.) sugar, the rest of the box is made up of gelatin and other ingredients. The box I am getting my info from is a different flavor, so it looks like the amount of sugar varies slightly by flavor.

    2. I have a container of simply jello in front of me and a serving size is 22 grams of powder. 19 of those grams are from sugar…

    1. I make our yogurt in the crockpot & 1 gallon makes 9 servings. Much cheaper & I know what we’re eating. Homemade granola is fantastic, too!

  3. I take on board that this might be helpful for those people that have never thought about where the sugar comes from in their diet, or why they feel ill most of the time – but maybe its a cultural thing – I’m British, and I don’t understand why things in packets and jars and cans are big part of your diet. When I make porridge ( oatmeal ) I simpy use gluten free oats and skimmed milk or water then add low sugar berries such as blueberries or raspberries – it takes 2 minutes in the microwave – why would I buy it in a packet? As for BBQ sauce, I make my own with onions, balsamic vinegar, stevia and passata – it takes ten mins and has no added anything. And why on earth would anyone who is remotely interested in their health drink coke or pepsi?
    I congratulate you for helping to inform people about healthy eating, but I’m still shocked that this is news in 2014.

    1. Unfortunately, Americans are so lazy that virtually everything comes in a packet, can, box, or freezer packaged meal. I make all my meals from scratch and people look at me like I’m crazy. It’s just a cultural norm here. Most people don’t even know how good food can be because they have been eating highly processed foods their whole lives, and they dont realize how sweet (disgustingly sweet) almost everything is.

      1. True. I however am an American raising 3 and our lifestyle includes eating REAL food. My husband and I stress natural clean eating for the sake of future generations. It’s usually easier and cheaper than prepackaged “food”. We also know a lot more families taking nutrition to heart. I hope word spreads to decrease childhood and adult obesity and diabetes. Obesity and idylness is rampant. Parents are killing their children with fast food.

      2. Nicole Hodge Pittaluga

        I don’t think it’s only laziness. I know plenty of people who buy convenience food because they grew up on it and it never occurred to them to make it from scratch. I would guess that Most Americans do not known how to make BBQ sauce, salad dressing, taco seasoning…and many don’t realize that the ingredients are bad for them. It’s about lack of education and major marketing by food companies.

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