Added Sugar and Food Labels

By Melissa Brandon  |  March 4, 2020

Do you read food labels? Do you have a hard time figuring out if a product is good for you or not? Especially when it comes to how much sugar a product contains? If you read the ingredients list you may not be aware that sugar or sweeteners appear several times because there are at least 100 different approved sweeteners. Many processed foods contain multiple sweeteners. But things are about to get easier! At the beginning of 2020, food labels will include a line that specifically states how much sugar per serving has been added to the product. It should be noted that this date only applies to companies with $10 million or more in sales. Companies beneath that threshold have until January 2021 to comply.

Added sugar does not include naturally occurring sugars, such as those found in fruit and dairy products. Natural sugars are easily recognized by the body and generally not considered harmful, in reasonable amounts. Added sugar can be found in virtually every processed food available today including bread, lunch meat, cereal, granola bars, condiments, peanut butter, pretzels, yogurt, soft drinks, sports drinks and candy bars, to name just a few. A 12 ounce can of regular soda contains 8 teaspoons of added sugar!

While the average adult in America consumes 27 teaspoons of added sugar per day, the American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 tsp of added sugar per day for women, no more than 9 tsp for men and no more than 3 tsp for small children.

This excess sugar consumption can lead to weight gain and obesity, heart disease, depression, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and cancer. It is hoped that the updated food labels will help people make better decisions about the food they are eating. Each label also highlights how many servings are in each package. It should be noted that all numbers on food labels are based on a specific serving size.

The sugar industry fought hard against this change to food labels. But obesity rates are soaring in this country, including children! Now that the food labels will highlight how much sugar is in the product, the sugar lobby is concerned that consumers will begin to buy less of these products. Let’s hope they are right!

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