Sugar has been the focus of two of my previous posts, the October 2015 post on chewing sugar-free gum to avoid tooth decay (“Chew on This”) and a more general indictment of sugar in October 2014 (“Gimme a Little Sugar”).
I now have a P.S. to add to those.
According to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), the FDA has endorsed a proposed revision to the Nutrition Facts label that appears on about 700,000 packaged food items. The new label will give consumers more information about the sugar hidden in their food.
Here’s the proposed change: labels will specify the amount of “added sugars” in a product. In other words, it will highlight the sugar that doesn’t naturally occur in the product’s other ingredients. It will also include the percentage of an adult’s recommended daily intake of sugar this added sugar represents. Significantly, it will caution consumers to “AVOID TOO MUCH” of these added sugars.
The US calls this “a win for science” because it validates the strong scientific evidence that consuming too much sugar contributes to diseases affecting millions of Americans. It’s a major win because scientists were up against both the sugar lobby and the powerful packaged-food industry’s lobbyists, all of whom fought against the proposed change.
It’s also a win for public health because “Americans remain remarkably uninformed about the health dangers of excessive sugar intake” and even about how much sugar they’re already consuming. The average is more than 19 teaspoons of sugar every day! And an estimated 74 percent of all packaged foods—including many presumably non-sweet products like soups, salad dressings, and crackers—contain added sugar.
The UCS will continue to fight for the proposed change in hopes that the new label is finalized soon.
This info appears in the Fall 2015 issue of Catalyst, a UCS publication.