Sugar and diabetes: What does the American Diabetes Association say?

Published online: Jan 27, 2015
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The American Diabetes Association's (ADA) most recent Position Statement, Nutrition Therapy Recommendations for the Management of Adults With Diabetes, provides important nutrition advice that can be used by everyone, not just people with diabetes.

They make common-sense recommendations on maintaining energy balance, portion control and primarily eating a variety of nutrient-dense foods.

The Sugar Association supports these and other efforts to advise all Americans that fruits, vegetables, whole grains and other fiber and calcium-rich foods should be the centerpieces of their daily diets. We also support dietary guidance that helps Americans recognize that foods or beverages that don't contribute appreciable nutrients should not be major components of a diet but consumed as treats within caloric needs.

It's important for diabetics to make healthy choices and to know that consuming sugar in moderation, primarily in healthier food options, does not pose unique complications for diabetics. According to the ADA's Position Statement:

Sucrose is a disaccharide made of glucose and fructose. Commonly known as table sugar or white sugar, it is found naturally in sugar cane and in sugar beets. Research demonstrates that substitution of sucrose for starch for up to 35% of calories may not affect glycemia [blood glucose levels] or lipid levels [blood fats].

The average American consumes about 7% of their calories from sugar/sucrose and about 14% of calories from all forms of sweetening ingredients combined. We are definitely not recommending anyone consume 35% of calories from sugar but the current drumbeat of misinformation related to consuming sugar is creating unwarranted fear, for diabetic persons and the general population alike. Sugar is an all-natural carbohydrate with just 4 grams and 15 calories per teaspoon and has been safely used for centuries.