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Do the Japanese eat sugar?


The consumption of sugar is a common topic of discussion when it comes to healthy eating habits. It is believed that sugar is harmful to our health and can lead to various diseases if consumed excessively. In this article, we will explore the eating habits of the Japanese people and their consumption of sugar.

Japanese cuisine

Japanese cuisine is known for its unique flavors and presentation. It is a combination of traditional and modern cooking styles, with an emphasis on fresh and seasonal ingredients. Rice is a staple food in Japanese cuisine, and it is often accompanied by seafood, vegetables, and pickled dishes. However, the use of sugar in Japanese cuisine is not as prevalent as in other cuisines.

Japanese Snack Box

Sugar in Japanese sweets

While sugar is not commonly used in savory dishes, it is used in Japanese sweets or wagashi. Wagashi are traditional Japanese sweets made from ingredients such as rice flour, sweet bean paste, and fruits. These sweets are often served with tea and are an integral part of Japanese culture.

How much sugar do Japanese consume?

According to a study conducted by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, the average daily sugar intake for Japanese adults was 56 grams per day in 2017. This is below the World Health Organization’s recommended daily limit of 50 grams.

Sugar in Japanese drinks

Sugary drinks such as soda are not as popular in Japan as they are in other countries. Instead, green tea and other types of tea are commonly consumed. However, there are some Japanese drinks that contain sugar, such as calpis and ramune.

Sugar in Japanese snacks

Japanese snacks such as senbei (rice crackers) and mochi (rice cakes) do not contain large amounts of sugar. Instead, they are flavored with soy sauce, mirin, and other savory ingredients.

Healthy Japanese eating habits

The Japanese have a reputation for healthy eating habits. Their diet is high in fish, vegetables, and whole grains, and low in red meat and processed foods. This is believed to contribute to their low rates of obesity and heart disease.

The Japanese government’s efforts to reduce sugar consumption

In recent years, the Japanese government has been implementing measures to reduce sugar consumption. This includes promoting the consumption of water and other sugar-free drinks, as well as introducing a sugar tax on sugary beverages.

Alternative sweeteners in Japan

In addition to reducing sugar consumption, the Japanese are also exploring alternative sweeteners. One such sweetener is stevia, which is derived from the leaves of the stevia plant. It is said to be 200-300 times sweeter than sugar but has zero calories.


In conclusion, the Japanese do consume sugar but not as much as other countries. Their traditional diet and healthy eating habits contribute to their overall health and well-being. While there are efforts to reduce sugar consumption in Japan, it is important to remember that moderation is key when it comes to our diet.



Do the Japanese eat a lot of sugar?

Japan, a highly developed country, has a lower sugar consumption compared to other developed nations. In fact, per capita sugar consumption in Japan is only half of what it is in the UK and Australia.

How often do Japanese eat sugar?

Compared to Americans, the Japanese consume approximately half as much sugar per person. The World Health Organization suggests 50 grams of sugar a day for the average person, and in Japan, the average intake is around 57 grams, providing a point of reference.

Do the Japanese eat sweets?

Japan has a deep affection for desserts, encompassing both traditional Japanese wagashi and Western sweets. Prior to the introduction of sugar, Japanese people created desserts using a variety of ingredients, such as rice, sweet beans, plant sap, and flower nectar.

Why does Japanese food have so much sugar?

Japan’s culinary tradition values the importance of sugar as a seasoning in cooking. It enhances the taste, texture, balance, and overall appeal of foods, making them more satisfying. Japan has a rich history of incorporating sugar in their cuisine.

What country eats the most sugar?

The United States consumes the most sugar in the world, with an average daily consumption of 126.4 grams per person. This is over ten times higher than the recommended daily intake of 11 grams.

Why is it easy to stay thin in Japan?

Rice is a staple food in Japan and is consumed daily as a part of most meals. Its preparation typically does not involve the use of butter or salt, which is believed to help Japanese people maintain their slender physiques. The Japanese diet generally avoids unhealthy junk food and high-calorie options.

Japanese school lunch program

The Japanese school lunch program is also known for its healthy and balanced meals. The program provides students with a nutritionally balanced meal that includes rice, soup, a main dish, and vegetables. The meals are prepared with fresh and seasonal ingredients and are low in sugar and fat.

Sugar awareness in Japan

There is a growing awareness of the negative effects of sugar on health in Japan. Many health organizations have been promoting the reduction of sugar consumption and educating the public on the importance of a healthy diet. This has led to a shift in consumer behavior, with many Japanese people choosing low-sugar or sugar-free products.

Japanese culture and sweets

Sweets are an important part of Japanese culture, with many traditional sweets being associated with seasonal events and celebrations. For example, sakura mochi is a sweet rice cake filled with sweet bean paste and wrapped in a pickled cherry blossom leaf, which is eaten during the spring season. While these sweets do contain sugar, they are often consumed in small portions as part of a balanced diet.

The role of umami in Japanese cuisine

Umami, also known as the fifth taste, is an important aspect of Japanese cuisine. It is described as a savory flavor that enhances the taste of food. Umami-rich foods such as soy sauce, miso, and dashi are commonly used in Japanese cooking to add flavor without the use of sugar.

Sugar consumption and health issues in Japan

While the Japanese consume less sugar than many other countries, there are still concerns about its impact on health. Excessive sugar consumption has been linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other health issues. It is important for individuals to be aware of their sugar intake and make healthy choices when it comes to their diet.

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