How much sugar in soda?

By Marshall Brain


http://youtube.com/watch?v=F10EyGwd57M
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2156528875761294002

In the video, we looked at a can of soda and we measured out how much sugar there is in the can. For example, the can of soda in the video contained 39 grams of sugar. So we took a teaspoon and we measured out 39 grams of sugar using a scale.

Measuring out the sugar so that you can see it is a very good way to visualize the actual amount of sugar in a soft drink. If you want to try this at home here is what you need:

  • One or more beverages, with their nutrition labels
  • A teaspoon
  • A measuring cup
  • Some sugar
  • A bowl or a piece of paper
Look at the nutrition label for the beverage to see how much sugar there is in a serving. Use your measuring cup and pour one serving into a glass. Now, let's say there are 40 grams of sugar in a serving. If you look on Google, you will see that the "official" measure is four grams of sugar in a level teaspoon (we got a bit more than that when we actually measured it out in the video, but let's go with 4-grams-per-teaspoon when you try this at home). Measure out 10 teaspoons of sugar and put it in your bowl or on your sheet of paper.

Now look at the amount of sugar that you have measured out. Can you believe it? Would you ever eat this much sugar? No, of course not. It is a ton of sugar and it would be gross to eat that much. But because you dissolve it in water and drink it, it somehow seems "OK." In reality it is not OK. This much sugar is not good for your body.

Now try this. Put one teaspoon of sugar in a glass and add 12 ounces of water. Taste it. Now try two teaspoons and taste it. Then try three, four... The question to ask yourself is, "does there really need to be 40 grams of sugar in the water for it to taste good?" You might find that you can get by with a lot less.

One last question - Take a glass and add 12 ounces of warm water to it. Now see how many teaspoons of sugar you a dissolve into the water before it simply won't take any more. How close is 40 grams to that number? Taste this sugar-saturated water. Does it taste any different to you than water with 40 grams of sugar in it?

You might want to try some other experiments. For example, if you take fruit juice and mix it half-and-half with water, how does it taste? Can you think of other things to try? Have fun performing your own science experiments!