The revised changes would be a sweet victory for health advocates and place beverage manufacturers in a sticky situation.
Packaged beverages — like sodas and sports drinks — supply almost half of added sugar intake, according to the latest report by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC).
Under advisement from the committee’s reports as well as a growing body of research linking sugar to cardiovascular disease, weight gain, type 2 diabetes, and obesity, the FDA has proposed some significant revisions to the Nutrition Facts labels on packaged foods and beverages.
The proposal includes adding the percent daily value (%DV) for added sugars on the Nutrition Facts label of packaged foods, giving consumers additional information for added sugars similar to information they have seen for decades with respect to nutrients such as sodium and certain fats.
The percent daily value indicates how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. The percent daily value would be based on the recommendation that the daily intake of calories from added sugars not exceed 10 percent of total calories.
“Ten percent of calories means 200 calories on a 2,000 calorie daily diet, or 50 grams, or 12 teaspoons — the amount in one 16-ounce soda,” writes Marion Nestle, Paulette Goddard Professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University. “If you drink a 16-ounce soda, you have done your added sugars for the day.”
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends limiting the amount of added sugars you consume to no more than half of your daily discretionary calories allowance. For most American women, that’s no more than 100 calories per day, or about 6 teaspoons of sugar. For men, it’s 150 calories per day, or about 9 teaspoons.
Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, author of Beat Sugar Addiction Now, says “hidden sugar lies at the heart of many modern-day health epidemics,” and adds, “If you eat a standard American diet, you likely have a problem with sugar, whether you know it or not.”
“The FDA has a responsibility to give consumers the information they need to make informed dietary decisions for themselves and their families,” said Susan Mayne, PhD, director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, in an official FDA statement. “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,” she says.
The American Bakers Association, American Beverage Industry, and the Corn Refiners Association have submitted a letter opposing the revisions.
The FDA revisions come on the heels of recent news that Coca-Cola has been funding studies shifting the causes of obesity away from diet.
While it’s common for the food industry to fund scientific research, a recent analysis published in PLOS Medicine noted that studies funded by beverage makers were five times more likely to find no link between sugary drinks and weight gain than those that they hadn’t funded.
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