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

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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!”

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  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.

  4. I just looked at the Metamucil Container my husband just bought to help his stomache, I was in shock. The first ingredient was sucrose. So, it says to start out with 1 tbsp. which has 8 grams of sugar and 45 calories. It says you can take up to 3 times a day.

  5. I purchase the Simple Truth organic Instant Oatmeal at King Soopers. Has 0 sugar. If I want a little sweet I add some fruit. Or a drop of Stevia.

  6. Tomato products all contain sugar. My favorite tomato sauce has too much sugar. I use fresh tomatoes whenever I can.

  7. Thanks for posting this! It’s really powerful for people to see just how much added sugar is in what they’re eating and drinking. The barbecue sauce is so striking to me – if you double the serving size to 4 tbsp (probably more like what most people consume), that’s about 24 grams of added sugar. 25 grams of added sugar is the upper limit to what most of should be having in a day (per the WHO guidelines of less than 5% of total calories), but most people don’t consider barbecue sauce because it’s not a dessert. Thanks for sharing!

  8. I always love to see visuals like this because it really brings it home how much sugar is in these products. When we see it visually we really can’t deny it.

    The Pepsi is unbelievable, over 17 teaspoons!! It’s a wonder people don’t have a heart attack from drinking this stuff. That is WAY too much toxic load on the body.

    It’s no wonder we have such wide spread health issues. Thanks for sharing :)

  9. I was expecting this article to be much more revelatory and informative. Regular soda, a candy bar, kool aid and Red Bull are quite obviously exceedingly high in sugar. What about things we consider more “innocent” and “healthful” like certain crackers, yogurt, cereal/granola, cereal bars, and even bread? Lost some credibility on what is usually a good source of information.

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hello Kristi. Everyone falls on different levels on the “real food learning continuum”. For those just starting to read labels, this basic info can be enlightening. ~Amy

    2. I have to agree with Kristi. 8 products with more sugar than I think? I’m not all surprised that kool-aid, frosting, candy and soda have a lot of sugar. This is clickbait without any real substance behind it.

  10. I have to say I am so grateful a friend recxomended your site to me! It is life changing and revolutionary for the food industry and I’m excited to see what changes will be made to food products because of you! Thank you for helping our society get where it needs to be in regards to healthy!! As someone who has always been into fitness, It’s been quite the journey for me trying to figure out what’s healthy and what’s not. My sister in law started having these crazy near coma experiences out of the blue at 21, her doctors didn’t know what it was but told her to stay away from ANYTHING that has sugar, even natural sugar, white flour, and milk. That narrows food choices down to very few things these days. My SIL has to go through every single item in the store and make sure what she chooses ha absolutely no sugar. I am appalled at what she found has sugar in it!! Salt! Of all the things I would have guessed would be something she could pick up without any worries has dextrose in it! It blew my mind to hear all these things. So then I started picking up a few “sugar free” products to find out just a few months later from an internet article that that’s even worse. I began wondering what I could trust! And I was doing okay “doctoring up” recipes as my mom calls it , but your website has changed my life! Thank you so much for helping those of us out who are in need of knowing what’s okay to eat and what’s not. You are amazing Lisa!!

  11. Not surprised, except maybe by the BBQ sauce. Guess I’ll have to start making my own. I don’t eat any of the other things you mentioned. It’s hard to believe that some folks -especially children- probably eat a lot of these things daily!

  12. Rachel, first start young! When they don’t know better it isn’t so hard. But aside from that, we have it almost every morning and it’s a favorite. Which is amazing, considering my oldest is 7 and has a sweet tooth. Maybe try starting with a tablespoon and gradually decreasing in teeny amounts until you’re down to an amount you’re comfortable with. I personally can’ stomach plain oatmeal, so I wouldn’t expect my kids to either. I whisk up a raw egg and then add water to equal the called for amount of water, cook it all, and top it with frozen berries and honey. They don’t know about the egg but it really does keep them going longer.

    I actually came back to this post after reading it yesterday because it really stuck with me, for some reason, how judgey the teaser email was about “indulging in the occasional soda”. I actually think it’s completely okay and probably healthy as a human being to occasionally indulge in things that aren’t good for us. Everything in moderation.

  13. I’m curious how others get their kids to eat plain multi-grain oatmeal. I have no problem making it but then my kids want to put about a tablespoon of maple syrup on it so I feel like what’s the use?

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Rachel. Just use 100% pure maple syrup and feel better about making the oatmeal yourself. :) ~Amy

    2. Rachel, we eat oatmeal a couple of times per week and my kids love/ request it. Some of our favorite types we make are: strawberries’n’cream (using frozen berries, a little vanilla and some milk and maybe honey), pear and blueberry, apple-cinnamon (could use applesauce or chopped apples), and pina colada (canned crushed pineapple and coconut milk). Bananas, pears and mangos are great add-in and add some natural sweetness as well, so play around with combinations. And, try mixing it all into the pot so you control how much extra sweetener goes in and then gradually reduce how much you use. :)

  14. Thank you. I’m showing this to my kids ad will no longer be purchasing oatmeal. I try to buy the lower sugar kind, but it doesn’t come in strawberry. I then attempt mitigation by scooping out some of the flavoring powder, which horrified my daughter yesterday when she saw me do it. We are definitely switching to the make it yourself kind (which of course they don’t like as much).

  15. Then again, honey and maple syrup also contain a good bit of fructose, but at least have some vitamins and minerals. The key here, and the point the article makes, is that sugar should be limited to 3-9 teaspoons per day, the amount depending on age and gender, and that’s hard to do if you’re eating processed foods full of empty sugar calories. Eat your sugar with fiber, as in fresh, whole fruit.

  16. I looked up some of these items.
    Most have ZERO sugar, they have corn syrup, usually HFCS.
    One cannot compare cane sugar to corn syrup it is like comparing olive oil to motor oil.
    I am dissapointed in this article, you usually have accurate research,but it is very far off the mark this time
    color me bummed out

    1. There is not much difference in cane sugar and high fructose corn syrup. Both contain ismilar amounts of fructose and have the same effect on insulin production.

  17. I recently read an article about the amount of sugar cereals contain. Although many “healthier” cereals contain raisins and dried fruit, which bring natural sugars, still the total amount is exorbitant, 17-19 grams per serving.

  18. I am one of those occasional par takers in soda. I usually do the LaCroix water or Zevia but my son wanted Arby’s for lunch (a rare treat) and I had Pepsi with my corned beef sandwich! Ugh!glad God reminds us in subtle ways like this that we need to keep trying for better and mindful nutrition! Thanks for the reminder.

  19. Grocery shopping on Monday, I found added sugar in canned corn and quinoa. I was completely annoyed. It was a good teaching moment for my kids. Even my 5 year asked why there would be sugar in corn.

    1. I went out of my way to buy some local frozen corn from my farmer’s market last spring for this amazing corn chowder recipe I was planning to make. Went to thaw the corn, and sure enough, saw sugar in the ingredient list, sigh. No wonder the corn samples always taste so good! Needless to say, I bought my usual 365 brand frozen corn the next time I made that soup.