• Should The FDA Regulate Sugar Content?

      By Michael F. Jacobson Huffpost Healthy Living

      When I first began my work on food safety and nutrition in 1970, people knew that tasty, familiar white sugar was just "junk" and "empty calories." Sugar was derided because it was devoid of vitamins and minerals and it promoted tooth decay.

      But recent studies have begun to demonstrate that the large amounts of added (or refined) sugars -- including cane and beet sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, plain corn syrup, and dextrose -- in our diets are harming much more than our teeth.

      Although levels have declined in the past decade, we still consume an awful lot of sugar. According to estimates by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average person takes in almost 400 calories' worth of refined sugars a day, and many people consume far more. In fact, more than 35 million people get more than one-fourth of their calories from refined sugars [1]. Almost half of that sugar comes from liquid candy: soft drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, fruit drinks, and the like.

      Studies that track thousands of people for years find that those who consume more sugary drinks have a higher risk of weight gain, diabetes [2], heart disease [3], and gout [4]. When scientists give people sugary drinks, they put on more weight than people who get calorie-free drinks. And when researchers give people hefty amounts of fructose, which constitutes about half of sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, they see a rise in deep belly fat and in blood levels of triglycerides, glucose, insulin, and LDL ("bad") cholesterol -- all precursors of heart disease. Moreover, the more sugar (from foods and beverages) that people consume, the fewer nutrients they get.

      The American Heart Association recommends that women consume no more than six teaspoons of added sugars a day and that men consume no more than nine. To put that into context, a can of Coke contains 9 teaspoons of added sugars, and a 6-ounce flavored yogurt has about five teaspoons.

      But advice from health experts can do only so much in a society where cheap sugary drinks and foods are sold at every fast-food outlet, convenience store, coffee shop, gas station, drugstore, and supermarket.

      Luckily, companies are developing safer, better-tasting, high-potency sweeteners made from natural sources like stevia leaves. Others are working on "sweetness enhancers" that make one teaspoon of sugar taste like two.

      The time has come for the Food and Drug Administration to reevaluate the safety of sugary drinks. That's what the Center for Science in the Public Interest, several dozen nutrition experts, seven local health departments, and 15 nonprofit organizations have asked the FDA to do.

      I think -- and some soft-drink industry officials agree -- that the amount of sugar in beverages could be cut by 75 percent or more and they'd still taste great. I'll drink to that!


      1. Marriott BP, Olsho L, Hadden L, et al. Intake of added sugars and selected nutrients in the United States, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 2003-2006. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2010;50:228-58. (This study was funded by the industry-sponsored International Life Sciences Institute.)

      2. Hu FB, Malik VS. Sugar-sweetened beverages and risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes: epidemiologic evidence. Physiol Behav. 2010(Apr 26);100(1):47-54.

      Malik VS, Schulze MB, Hu FB. Intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain: a systematic review. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006;84:274-88.

      3. de Koning L, Malik VS, Kellogg MD, et al. Sweetened beverage consumption, incident coronary heart disease, and biomarkers of risk in men. Circulation. 2012(Apr 10);125(14):1735-41.

      Fung TT, Malik V, Rexrode KM, et al. Sweetened beverage consumption and risk of coronary heart disease in women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009;89:1037-42.

      Bernstein AM, de Koning L, Flint AJ, et al. Soda consumption and the risk of stroke in men and women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 May;95(5):1190-9.

      4. Zhu Y, Pandya BJ, Choi HK. Prevalence of gout and hyperuricemia in the US general population: the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2007-2008. Arthritis Rheum. 2011(Oct);63(10):3136-41.

      Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michae...b_2791875.html
      Comments 3 Comments
      1. DerickVonD's Avatar
        DerickVonD -
        Yeah the same people that say aspartame is safe, should decide how much sugar should be put in products, no thanks.
      1. mikeg313's Avatar
        mikeg313 -
        Maybe people should simply take responsibility for their own actions and and pay attention and control what they eat instead. IMO if you're dumb enough to think a snickers is a sufficient meal replacement or sugary soda is a proper thirst quencher and hydration beverage as the commercials tend to insinuate then have at it you dumb ****s! Thin the herd!
      1. fueledpassion's Avatar
        fueledpassion -
        I hate government regulations. I disagree with that notion.

        People will continue to harm themselves. Let them learn the hard way. It should be handled just the same way smoking is handled - let marketing ads from special interest groups do all the work in adjusting perception of sugary drinks. When the diabetic population busts 50% in a few decades, people will start considering other options in their dietary habits or else their quality of life will suffer & lifespan shrinks. Let us become beacons of light for those who are unhealthy in this way. They will need examples to remind them of what they could be if their habits change.
    • This Week's Most Popular

        Log in
        Log in