The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has officially recommended that all nutrition labels now list the amount of added sugar as well as the percent daily value (% DV) as of Friday. This action has been long encouraged by health professionals but has been resisted by numerous food and beverage corporations.
The purpose of this addition is to inform consumers not only of the amount of sugar in the foods they are consuming, but also to show how that food compares to the recommended daily limit on sugar per day. Officials recommend that less than 10% of daily calories come from added sugars, which equates to approximately 50 grams of added sugars for adults and children 4 years of age and older. For children ages 1 to 3 years, the limit would be 25 grams.
In a blog post about the advised change, Susan Mayne, the FDA’s director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, wrote, “Scientific data shows that it is difficult to meet nutrient needs while staying within calorie requirements if you consume more than 10 percent of your total daily calories from added sugar.” She also states that the “FDA’s initial proposal to include the amount of added sugars on the Nutrition Facts label is now further supported by newly reviewed studies suggesting healthy dietary patterns, including lower amounts of sugar-sweetened foods and beverages, are strongly associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.”
For companies, this could mean trouble, as the push to prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease has risen over the past decade. Companies such as Coca-Cola will now be forced to list that a 20 oz. sweet drink contains 65 grams of added sugar, a whopping 130% of the daily recommended intake.
However, some companies have already shown their support for the sugar label mandate. Mars Inc., the maker of household candy favorites such as M&M’s and Snickers, has said that the labeling will provide important information for consumers.
Added sugars do not include those natural sugars that come from fruits and other naturally sweet foods (such as carrots and beets). The term only includes those sweeteners that were added by the companies into their foods. These added sweeteners do enhance the sweet-flavor of food products, but also adds extra calories without any nutritional benefits.
And how does The Sugar Association, which represents some of the nation’s largest sugar producers, feel about this plan? They feel it’s based on “limited and weak scientific evidence,” and insist that the science and data on caloric sweeteners “do not support a suggested limit on sugars intake.”
Studies have shown that United States sugar consumption has increased more than 30% in adults and more than 20% in children since 1977. Two out of three adults and one out of three children in the United States are overweight or obese, and the nation spends over $190 billion a year treating obesity-related health conditions. The rise in sugar consumption has been linked to this rising obesity trend.