Parents Deserve to Know: Demand Honest Health Claims on Foods Loaded with Added Sugars

From obesity to type 2 diabetes, young children face real health risks from the overconsumption of sugar, laying the early groundwork for a life of diet-related diseases and health complications.

To get a sense of the magnitude of the problem, consider this: a 2010 study found that over 90 percent of children ages two through eight get more than half of their daily calories from added sugars. That's five times the 10 percent limit that the Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Agriculture have recommended.

All public health signs point to the fact that we have to do better for our children’s health. But while the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has limits on the amount of cholesterol, fat, and sodium that can be in food bearing health claims such as “healthy,” there is no such limit for added sugars. You could be buying foods to feed your family that are labeled as “nutritious” but are actually chock-full of added sugar.

And the combination of deceptive marketing and unequal access to healthy foods means African American, Hispanic and Native American communities, as well as low-income communities, face disproportionately high health risks and diet-related illnesses.

Demand that the FDA limit the amount of added sugars that can be in foods bearing front-of-package health claims.
To the FDA,

I am writing to request that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) set a level for added sugars, above which food and beverage companies cannot make health or nutrient claims. This will help protect consumers from misleading claims on foods making them sound healthier than they actually are.

The mission of the FDA is to "protect the public health by ensuring that foods are safe, wholesome, sanitary, and properly labeled" and the agency has the authority to enforce misleading claims, since they are a form of "misbranding." Since there is overwhelming evidence that excessive added sugar consumption is not part of a healthy eating pattern, the FDA should include added sugar restrictions for nutrient content claims, including those that are implied.

When the FDA first codified the US Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990 and designated disqualifying levels for total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium because they are "known to increase the risk of disease," public health experts recommended that American consumers limit or reduce intake of these nutrients. More than two decades have passed and in that time, overwhelming scientific evidence has shown the link between sugar consumption and cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, high triglycerides, and hypertension.

Recommendations from federal agencies and major reputable scientific organizations, including the US Department of Health and Human Services, US Department of Agriculture, World Health Organization, and American Heart Association have recommended that American consumers limit intake of added sugars to reduce their risk of chronic disease. The American Heart Association also recently put out strong recommendations on added sugar for children, citing the wealth of evidence on the association between added sugar consumption and increased cardiovascular disease risk at levels below current intakes.

[your comment here]

The FDA must act now to improve the scientific basis and accuracy of health and nutrient claims by creating a limit for added sugars on front-of-package labels. Doing so would improve the information available to consumers, especially parents, helping to improve the diets and overall health of American families.


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