Just a spoonful of sugar...

Sure, we all know what a spoonful of sugar is but do you know if it's a lot or a little?  Or how many of those teaspoons - if any - we should be having in our food each day?  Or how the sugar added to food is the same or different from, say, naturally occurring sugar in fruit?  And what about the sugar found in juice?

These are some of the questions the FDA proposes to and can answer when it comes to 'added sugars' on the nutrition facts panel.  We're given guidance on so many nutrients (like sodium and fats, among others) - albeit often misunderstood and the FDA is working on this, too - but so little on sugar.

Here's an example - just a regular box of Honey Nut Cheerios.  Note the lack of any % Daily Value next to sugar, or any reference to what sugars might be naturally occurring versus added.  And take a close look at the footnote at the bottom around percent daily values.  It quickly becomes overwhelming - and very confusing.


FDA's proposed rule would, among other things: (1) require declaration of the percent daily value (%DV) for added sugars; and (2) change the current footnote on the Nutrition Facts label.

From the FDA's overview:

Added sugars: FDA is proposing including the percent daily value (%DV) for added sugars on the Nutrition Facts label of packaged foods, giving consumers additional information for added sugars similar to information they have seen for decades with respect to nutrients such as sodium and certain fats. The percent daily value indicates how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet and would help consumers make informed choices for themselves and their families. The percent daily value would be based on the recommendation that the daily intake of calories from added sugars not exceed 10 percent of total calories.

In addition to added sugars, FDA is also proposing a change to the "little text" at the bottom of the nutrition facts panel. 

See here:

Footnote: FDA is also proposing to change the current footnote on the Nutrition Facts label to help consumers understand the percent daily value concept. The proposed statement on the label would be shorter than the current footnote to allow for more space on the label, stating: *The percent daily value (%DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

Both of these changes are welcome news.  We know sugar-sweetened beverages have been linked to weight gain, type 2 diabetes, dental caries and other negative health outcomes.  We know we are eating way too much added sugar.  We know consumers are confused about the nutrition facts panel and sugar in particular.  And we know that sugar from fruit juice acts like added sugar and should be indicated as such on the label.  So if you weigh in, let the FDA know this, too.

Now's your time.  You have until October 13 to submit public comments.  Go here to submit comments and go here to learn more.