FDA Proposes Rule Setting Out Proper Consumption Levels for Added Sugar

In July 2015, the FDA proposed a rule that would update the Nutrition facts label on most food packages to include more information about how much added sugar is in a food product and what the appropriate consumption levels are. Added sugars are sugars and syrups that are added to food or beverages when they are processed or prepared.  Major sources of added sugar include soft drinks, sugars, candy, cakes, cookies, pies and fruit drinks; dairy desserts and milk products (ice cream, sweetened yogurt and sweetened milk); and other grains.

The proposed rule will require declaration of the “percent daily value” for added sugars. Presently, it is recommended that daily calories from added sugars not exceed 10 percent of a 2000-calorie diet. In a 2000-calorie-a-day diet, that works out to a daily maximum of about 200 calories a day or 12 teaspoons of added sugar. Currently, added sugar is presented in grams on nutrition fact labels. One gram of sugar contains about 4 calories. http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/07/24/425908798/no-more-hidden-sugar-fda-proposes-new-label-rule

Food companies throughout the United States add sweeteners to their products, which increases calories but provides no nutritional value. Also, consuming too much added sugar leads to weight gain, obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and reduced heart health, and heart disease. Most Americans consume way more sugar than they realize. Sugar is one of the few major food components that doesn’t have a recommended consumption level on U.S. food labels, primarily because FDA hasn’t issued recommended consumption levels. This action by FDA will promote consumer awareness and allow Americans to make informed decisions relating to their sugar intake.

“For the past decade, consumers have been advised to reduce their intake of added sugars, and the proposed percent daily value for added sugars on the Nutrition Facts label is intended to help consumers follow that advice,” wrote Susan Mayne, director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, in an agency news release.

Currently, the FDA is taking comment on the new proposal for 75 days. Many health activists and consumer advocate groups have applauded the FDA’s efforts to inform consumers about how much added sugar they are actually consuming when they consumer processed foods and beverages. The agency will probably also hear from food companies. The Sugar Association has already weighed in, probing whether the move to constrain added sugars to no more than 10 percent of daily calories is backed by sufficient scientific evidence and studies. Moreover, food companies argue that nutrition fact labels do not influence most consumers and it will be expensive for companies to implement into their products.

This proposed rule is a part of a major overhaul by the Obama administration to modernize nutrition fact labels and inform consumers so they may lead healthier lives.


Written by Karina Velez–Fellow Health Law and Policy Brief Junior Blogger

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