June 2019 Issue

Editor’s Spot: Added Sugars Label Please Hurry
By Judith Riddle
Today’s Dietitian
Vol. 21, No. 6, P. 4

The FDA’s added sugars labeling policy on packaged foods and beverages can’t be implemented fast enough. According to a study published in the American Heart Association’s (AHA) journal Circulation, simply listing the amount of added sugars on labels could prevent nearly 1 million cases of CVD and type 2 diabetes in the United States and save tens of billions of dollars in health care costs.

More specifically, researchers estimated that by 2037 the added sugars label could prevent 354,400 CVD and 600,000 type 2 diabetes cases and save $31 billion in net health care costs or $62 billion in societal costs, including reduced lost productivity. And if the label causes food and beverage companies to reformulate their products to contain less added sugars, the United States could see even greater reductions in CVD (708,800) and type 2 diabetes (1.2 million) cases.

These estimations are nothing short of astounding!

Unfortunately, implementation of the FDA’s added sugars labeling policy was postponed. The FDA extended the compliance date from July 2018 to January 1, 2020, for manufacturers with $10 million or more in annual sales and to January 1, 2021, for smaller companies with less than $10 million in yearly sales to give them more time to develop new labels and reformulate products, if needed. Some manufacturers already are in compliance with the new label requirements, but until everyone gets on board we won’t see the positive results of better health and reduced health care costs.

Added sugars have been the target of health organizations for years due to their negative impacts on cardiometabolic health. The 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) limit daily intake of added sugars to 10% of total calories; AHA recommends that men consume no more than 9 tsp (36 g) per day, women no more than 6 tsp (25 g) per day, and that children and teens aged 2 to 18 consume less than 6 tsp per day and no more than 8 oz of sugar-sweetened beverages per week. Sadly, Americans still consume more than 300 kcal of added sugars per day, exceeding DGA guidelines.

But good things await us as the deadline draws near for the implementation of the new nutrition labels.

This month, Today’s Dietitian provides an in-depth overview of the landmark EAT-Lancet report in the feature article, “The Planetary Health Diet” on page 24. You’ll also find articles on the growing popularity of meat substitutes, liberalized diets in hospital foodservice, obesity-related cancers in young adults, and carbohydrates and sports performance. Please enjoy the issue!

Judith Riddle