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The Growing Debate On "Added Sugars"

As of May 20th 2016, the FDA has proposed to include a separate line for added sugars on the Nutrition Facts label on food packaging to help Americans make more informed decisions about what to eat and drink.

The new labeling guideline demonstrates to add the amount of “added sugars” in grams and as percent daily value (%) on the nutrition label. Scientific data shows that it is difficult to meet nutrient needs while staying within calorie limits if you consume more than 10 percent of total daily calories from added sugar.

Although the general public, mainly scientists and public health experts supported this proposed change on nutrition labels, the U.S. food industry opposed the proposed label overwhelmingly. The leading food manufacturers such as the American Beverage Association, Sugar Association and General Mills denies the science on added sugars, stating “FDA lacks a scientific rationale for providing information about added sugar content as distinguished from total sugar content, and no scientific basis for an added sugar declaration”.

So, what is the scientific motive for added sugar? A growing body of scientific research has confirmed the relationship between excessive sugar consumption and rise in the incidence of major chronic health conditions such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Today, more than two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight or obese and, 29.1 million suffer from diabetes. Therefore, the FDA and food industries should work together to reduce the burden of rising health care costs associated with obesity, diabetes and related co-morbidities. Recommendations as low as 10% total energy from added sugars on nutritional labels are likely not too restrictive for most Americans to achieve. On the other hand, strict recommendations and obligatory nutrition labeling are likely not the most effective ways to reduce added sugar and excess calorie consumption. Education on healthy food choices and portion sizes may also be a better starting point for reduced calorie intake and added sugars.

As federal nutritional labeling and agriculture policies are influenced by the food industry in most parts of the U.S, a strong positive response from the food industry to the FDA’s proposed rule of “added sugar” would mean a real victory for public health in U.S.


Credit: Alicja Wojewnik / Regulatory Expert / CEO of dicentra, Inc. / Nugevity Contributor

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