New U.S. 'added sugars' labels could improve health

April 15, 2019 in Diabetes & Diabetes Prevention, Heart Health, Nutrition Topics in the News

New U.S. 'added sugars' labels could improve health

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s new mandatory rules requiring labels on all U.S. packaged foods and drinks to declare the amount of added sugars could have substantial health and cost saving benefits in the United States over the next two decades, a new study from Tufts University suggests. 

Using a computer model, researchers determined that the labeling policy, which is set to go into effect between 2020 and 2021, could prevent nearly 1 million cases of heart disease and diabetes. 

About the study

For the computer models, the researchers used data from the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES), which each year involves a nationally representative sample of about 5,000 people. In particular, the researchers looked at 24-hour dietary intake forms completed on two separate occasions by adults ages 30 to 84. 

Among the assumptions made in the modeling was the impact labeling would have on sugar consumption. The researchers estimated that people would decrease added sugar intake by 6.8 percent because of the labeling. In an analysis of what would happen if companies reformulated their products as a result of the labeling, the researchers assumed an additional 8.25 percent decrease in added sugar intake. 

Those sugar reduction estimates came from “real world studies where the presence of a label on a product led to positive consumer responses,” the researchers said.

This work and that of others, including recent experience with trans-fat labeling in the U.S., suggests that mandating labeling of added sugar content would stimulate the food industry to reduce sugar in their products. Some companies are already reformulating their products to reduce added sugar content, partly driven by the consumer’s demand for healthier products.

Note: In December 2016, Health Canada announced that it will not include a line for added sugars on nutrition labels. In my opinion, this is a missed opportunity to educate Canadians about added sugar content in packaged foods.  

Source: Circulation, online April 15, 2019.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.