The Way We Think Of Sugar Is Going To Change
The FDA recently changed their Nutrition Facts label to include added sugars. But why?
Let's see Cherry Coke. 42 grams of sugar in a Cherry Coke. How about Mountain Dew? 46 grams in a can of Mountain Dew. OK. I’m one of those weird people who likes to look at the nutrition facts label on food, and something that’s always bothered me is how there isn’t a percent daily value
listed for sugar. 39 grams of sugar in a can of Coke seems like a lot, but is it? On May 20th, 2016, the Food and Drug Administration introduced an updated nutrition facts label which they said reflected “new scientific information.” Among the changes were updated serving sizes, calories are way bigger, and this: an entirely new line for ‘added sugars’ that also includes a percent daily value.
But let’s back up. Why does it matter how much sugar a person consumes? Sugar, whether it’s natural or added, is a type of carbohydrate that our bodies use for energy. Fruits, vegetables, and dairy foods can naturally contain sugar. But the FDA defines ‘added sugars’ as those that are either: Added during the processing
of foods; Sugars from syrups and honey; And sugars from concentrated fruit or vegetable juices that are in excess of what would be expected from the same volume of 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice of the same type A food science expert explains why added sugars can be harmful. "Oh, they're not needed. And they dilute the nutritional quality of whatever they're added to.
They give you calories, but they don't give you any additional nutrients." The FDA recommends limiting added sugar intake to no more than 10% of a person’s total daily calories. For adults, this equals about 50 grams, or 12.5 teaspoons, of sugar per day. In other words, a little more than a can of Mountain Dew. The World Health Organization recommends even less.
Just 5% of a person's daily calories, which equals about 25 grams, or 6 teaspoons, per day. Or one package of peanut M&Ms. For reference, the average American adult consumes 75 grams of added sugar per day, or about 19 teaspoons. So where does all this added sugar come from? If your first answer is soda, you might be surprised to know that American soda consumption
has steadily decreased in the past 15 or so years. The truth is that sugar can be found in just about everything we eat and drink, but it’s often disguised under other names, like glucose, fructose, maltose, dextrose (basically anything that ends with -ose), cane juice, cane syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, cane sugar, corn sweetener, molasses, malt syrup, invert sugar, or fruit juice concentrates. Manufacturers list them in this way to break up the amount and make it appear like there’s
less overall sugar in a product. And that’s one of the reasons the FDA is updating the nutrition label – so consumers are aware of how much added sugar is in their food. “You will no longer need a microscope, a calculator, or a degree in nutrition to figure out whether the food you’re buying is actually good for our kids.” "If you're going to be eating healthfully, you want to keep the amount of sugar down.
Not just for reasons of nutrients, but also because there's so much evidence that people who eat a lot of sugar have a higher risk for obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and so forth." If that's the case, why hasn't the public been better informed? To answer that, we need to go back in time. "In the 1960s, a lot of attention in the scientific community was directed to trying to understand the dietary factors in the American diet, and how they might be linked to coronary heart disease.
American men were dying of coronary heart disease at higher rates than other countries. And so, we thought our specific American diet might have something to do with that." That’s Cristin Kearns, who along with co-authors Laura Schmidt and Stan Glantz, recently published a paper in JAMA Internal Medicine revealing that the sugar industry sponsored research that purposefully singled out fat as the dietary cause of heart disease, while downplaying the evidence that sugar consumption was also a factor.
"As more evidence began to link sucrose consumption to coronary heart disease, the sugar industry got involved with the research themselves in an attempt to discredit some of the evidence. And, I believe, direct attention away from that research onto the research linking fat to coronary heart disease." Founded in 1943 by members of the U.S. sugar industry, the Sugar Research Foundation was dedicated to communicating and supporting sugar’s dietary role to the public.
It later evolved into what is currently called The Sugar Association. "The documents that we have - the industry is certainly talking about how to protect market share. So, the Sugar Research Foundation was created to protect sales." Now, industry sponsored research is nothing new, but the effects of the Sugar Research Foundation's manipulation were far-reaching. When the U.S. government first published their Dietary Guidelines for Americans in 1980,
they recommended avoiding too much fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol, which they linked to a greater chance of having a heart attack. They did recommend limiting sugar intake, but only because it could cause tooth decay. Even today, walk into any grocery store and look at the so-called 'healthy products.' They usually advertise themselves as low-fat or low-cholesterol, but say almost nothing about the sugar content.
After the JAMA article came out, the Sugar Association released a statement: "We acknowledge that the Sugar Research Foundation should have exercised greater transparency in all of its research activities, however, when the studies in question were published funding disclosures and transparency standards were not the norm they are today.” "I think it was interesting that they acknowledged that they should have been more transparent. I actually didn't expect them to say that.
However, that doesn't exonerate the industry from their actions." Despite the manipulation by the Sugar Research Foundation, whether added sugar contributes to coronary heart disease is still hotly debated. "What you have is an enormous amount of evidence from correlation and association that people who eat diets that are high in sugar tend to have a greater risk for obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and heart disease."
The best thing you can do? Look at the labels. Know what's in your food, and how much. And if you're worried about added sugar, a simple solution is just to avoid prepackaged foods. Buy fresh ingredients and cook them yourself. That way, you can know exactly what's going into the food you eat.
So if you’re wondering why you haven’t seen the new nutrition facts label yet, it’s because manufacturers have until July of 2018 to comply with the changes. And if a manufacturer makes less than $10 million a year in annual food sales, they’ll have another year to make the change. Thanks for watching, guys. Please let me know what you thought of this episode.