Friday, October 09, 2015

Should Food Labels Reveal Details of Added Sugars?

The 2015’s new dietary guidelines for Americans advise people to cut consumption of added sugars. Added sugars refer to all types of sugars, including honey, molasses, brown sugar, white sugar, agave, which are added to foods that do not normally contain sugar.

People should, according to the new guidelines, cut down intake of added sugars from all sources to about 10 percent of total calories eaten daily. For instance, if a person eats 1,500 calories daily, he or she should consume about 150 calories of sugar. That is about the amount of sugar in one 12-ounce can of soda or a bowl of sugary cereal.
Added sugar contributes extra calories to the body but provides little nutritional value. Moreover, added sugar is often found in foods that also contain solid fats, such as butter, margarine or shortening in baked goods. Eating too much foods with added sugar and solid fat can cause weight gain or even obesity, which might lead to health problems including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.

On July 25, 2015, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that all food labels should contain more detail about how much sugar is in a product. The proposed rule requires food labels indicate not only how much sugar is in a product, but also what percentage the sugar added to the daily recommended intake. The FDA is also proposing to change the current footnote on the Nutrition Facts label to help consumers better understand the percent daily value concept.

Surely, the new proposal is welcomed by health activists because many people are just consuming too much sugar without knowing it. But the new proposal is also criticized by the food and beverage manufacturers arguing that there is no scientific evidence to justify the dietary limits on added sugars and the new labels would simply confuse the consumers. Some of them also claimed that additional nutritional information would be costly to implement, yet rarely influences consumer behavior.

However, a survey that was published June 15 in the ‘Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ found otherwise. The survey indicated that ‘added sugar’ did confuse a majority of the 1,088 respondents, who mistakenly thought that products with labels listing added sugars contained more sugar than they actually did. The survey also found that consumers would be less likely to buy a product if its nutrition panel listed added sugars.

It seems that the new proposal might further affect the sales of soda drinks. According to Beverage Digest, the sales volumes of soda related beverages had already fallen for 10 straight years because of obesity and diabetes concerns.

Not all food food companies are against the proposal. For instance, Mars Inc. (makers of M&M’s and Snickers), agreed that the new labeling would provide consumers with helpful information about how much sugar should be consumed, and affirmed their commitment to making more treats that are under 200 calories.

No comments:

Post a Comment