Much of that comes from soda and packaged foods. And although there isn't a direct scientific link, it's likely that the weight gain in our population is related in part to our increased intake of added sugars.

In 2009, the American Heart Association released a statement on how much sugar to eat (rest assured, a little bit of sugar is OK.) Here's what the AHA recommends:

Most women should eat or drink no more than 100 calories per day from added sugar, about 6 teaspoons. For men the cutoff is 150 calories from added sugars, or about 9 teaspoons. As a point of reference, a 12-ounce can of cola contains approximately 130 calories, or about 8 teaspoons of added sugar.

The AHA recommendations only apply to sugars added to food by consumers or added during manufacturing (that means the sugar added to your crackers, cereal and other packaged foods counts). The naturally occurring sugar in fruit, vegetables, grains and dairy doesn't count.

Easy ways to eat less added sugar:

•Have fruit for dessert. Skip the cookies and ice cream and make fruit into your after-dinner treat. You'll avoid added sugar and get some cancer-fighting antioxidants and fiber from the fruit.

•Drink smarter. Ditch soda and instead treat yourself to a low-calorie, fruit-flavored seltzer drink using no-sugar-added 100 percent fruit juice.

•Make your own yogurt parfait. Flavored yogurt (even vanilla) contains added sugars. Instead, make your own custom concoction by topping low-fat plain yogurt with fresh fruit. ]]>