ATLANTA - Health experts recommend we eat no more than eight teaspoons of sugar day. But on average, Americans consume four times that much.

That's raising questions about whether our growing sweet tooth could be making us sick.

On You Tube, a video about the dangers of sugar is steadily picking up steam, "High fructose corn syrup and sucrose are exactly the same. They're both equally bad." Now more than a million views, for a 2-year-old lecture on the dangers of sugar in which Dr. Robert Lustig calls it "toxic."

"They're both dangerous. They're both poison," said Dr. Robert Lustig.

Suddenly, everywhere, sugar is being debated and in some cases, demonized.

You don't have to convince Jim Lavalle.

"And I think a lot of research now is pointing to the fact that when people take in higher amounts of sugar. It's going to cause a lot of problems," said author Jim Lavalle

The author and metabolism expert believes a lot of expanding Americans -- especially those gaining it around the middle -- are victims of too much sugar, which can play havoc with insulin and begin a cascade of problems...

"As I gain body fat, I gain belly fat and the chemicals that come out of the body fat start to alter my chemistry. It's a process that leads you to chronic disease," said Lavalle.

 

Much of the blame is often pointed at corn and the high fructose corn syrup -- a sugar replacement -- that is produced from it and put into a lot of processed foods.

Dr. Lyn Steffen just finished a study that found over the last 30 years, sugar intake has steadily increased and right alongside it, our weight.

Steffen says if you're not looking at labels, you may not realize how much added sugar you're eating a day in foods you wouldn't suspect -- like sports drinks, or cereal bars, or in Steffen's fridge...

"And then the next ingredient is sugar," said Steffen, picking up a bottle of ketchup.

"I also think the industry, the food industry or food manufacturers need to think about the health of their population. And reduce the amount of added sugar. I mean do we really need high fructose corn syrup in the ketchup?" asked Steffen.

A lot of what you may find in the grocery aisles -- those middle ones with the packaged foods and snacks -- may come loaded with added sugar. And while the debate will continue about its effects and how much is in fact too much, it's a debate heard at a higher volume.

"I really believe that the information on high fructose has been out for a while. It's just now hitting critical mass and you have a lot of leading researchers now that are looking at it and saying hey, there's issues here," said Lavalle.

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