FDA to Require More Details on ‘Added Sugars’ in Food Labels

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July 28, 2015


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There is an ongoing war against sugar in the American diet. The goal: To help combat an obesity epidemic that generates higher risks of diabetes and heart disease. And now the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expanding its proposal to warn consumers of “added sugars” in the food they purchase.

The FDA announced Friday that it will require manufacturers to include what percentage the “added sugar” in a product contributes to a person’s daily recommended intake. The current label requires the “percent daily value” be listed for total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrate, dietary fiber, calcium and iron.

FDA officials said that the requirement would add much-needed context for consumers to help them better understand how the sugar they eat contributes to the total calories they consume each day.

This is an extension of an earlier proposal by the agency to require food nutrition labels to include the amounts of “added sugars,” meaning sugar not already in the food before it was produced and packaged.

“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, Ph.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “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.”

Added sugars are defined as sugars and syrups that are added to foods or beverages when those items are processed or prepared. These include common ready-to-eat cereals, candy, cookies, sodas and a range of other food products that are packaged or canned. Added sugar also includes those sugar packets you open to sweeten your coffee or tea.

Carbohydrates provide your body with the glucose it needs to function properly. There are two types of carbohydrates: complex and simple. Foods rich in complex carbohydrates and fiber are called good carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates include foods with added sugars and are called bad carbohydrates. Added sugar is fast becoming the bigger evil in diets that escalate heart disease.

The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC), an independent advisory committee to the FDA, recommends that Americans limit added sugars intake to less than 10 percent of total calories.

Most U.S. adults consume about 22 teaspoons of added sugar a day, which is far more than recommended by the American Heart Association: No more than six teaspoons or 100 calories a day of sugar for women; no more than 9 teaspoons or 150 calories a day for men.

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