The Food and Drug Administration is breaking new ground by telling Americans how much sugar they should be consuming in the hope they will cut back on their favorite sweets.
The FDA has set out its view of just how much sugar Americans should be consuming each day. For everyone over the age of three, the FDA recommends a limit of no more than 50g — equivalent to the amount of sugar in a can of regular coke.
In addition to recommending a cap on the amount sugar Americans eat, the FDA wants to distinguish between different types of sugar. The federal agency wants to change the way products are labelled by distinguishing between natural sugars, such as those found in fruit, and added sugars, which are often found in soda.
Speaking to the New York Times, director of nutrients communications for the International Food Information Council Kris Sollid, said “metabolically speaking, our bodies don’t differentiate between added and natural sugars.”
There is a problem, however, with the FDA’s proposals says Sollid. Having two different labels could confuse shoppers, with evidence published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggesting that people thought products labelled as having “added sugar” had more sugar in total than products that weren’t.
As a consequence, shoppers were less likely to buy products with added sugars that they may otherwise have wanted. If the FDA’s concern is to get Americans to eat less sugar to cut down on obesity, they are likely to be disappointed, according to a paper published on November 4.
Researchers at Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab looked at national data from 2007-8 and found there was no correlation between the amount of junk food and drink that people ate and their body mass index (BMI).
“If you want to try and prevent obesity, or want to create policy that is going to help people, simply addressing the availability of junk foods and sodas isn’t going to do it,” said David Just, one of the study’s authors.
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