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How much sodium and sugar should be in a 1200 calorie diet? — Lisa, MI

Christine Palumbo



 The 2000 release of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends we eat less salt and sugar. Healthy people need only about 1/4 teaspoon of salt daily, but most of us consume much more than that. The Nutrition Facts food label lists a maximum or Daily Value of 2,400 mg of sodium. This is the amount of sodium in about 1 teaspoon of salt. People who eat processed or frozen meals, and eat out frequently exceed that amount easily.
Most of us also take in far more sugar than we need. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, we're eating 30% more added sugars than we did in 1983. It gets somewhat complicated because this includes naturally occurring sugars such as milk sugar (lactose) and fruit sugar (fructose), but also larger amounts of added sugar. One consumer advocacy group has recently petitioned the FDA to set a Daily Value of 40 grams (10 teaspoons) of added sugars for people who eat a typical 2,000-calorie diet. It follows then, that someone eating a 1,200-calorie diet should limit themselves to 24 grams or 6 teaspoons of sugar a day.

About Christine Palumbo

Christine Palumbo, MBA, RD has been a nutrition communications consultant since 1989, providing dietary counsel and analysis on various nutrition, health and weight management topics to corporate clients and news media outlets nationwide. An active member of the American Dietetic Association (ADA), the Illinois Dietetic Association, Chicago Dietetic Association for more than twenty years, she has served on a variety of boards and practice group committees within those organizations. In 1981 and 1982, Palumbo was honored by the Chicago Dietetic Association and the Illinois Dietetic Association, respectively, as the Recognized Young Dietician of the Year.

Palumbo has been featured as the expert speaker in numerous national health panels and has published many articles and pamphlets regarding nutrition and healthcare. She has been featured in national women's, health and business magazines, daily newspapers and local and national radio programs. Palumbo has also appeared on numerous local and national TV news programs, including a segment on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 1997 on the health benefits of drinking water.

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