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How Much Added Sugar is in Food? Eaters Have the Right to Know

For Immediate Release: 
Thursday, February 23, 2012

Washington, D.C. – If Americans knew exactly how much added sugar came with the food and beverages they and their families consume, many might make different choices.

A coalition of public health organizations is calling on the federal Food and Drug Administration to require that food labels display information on added sugar.

“While current regulations stipulate what foods can be labeled ‘No Sugar Added’ or use a similar phrase, there is currently no requirement that added sugars be shown separately on the ingredients list,” the group wrote FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg. “We recommend that FDA require that added sugars be listed on the ingredients section of food labels so that consumers can make healthier choices when they shop.”

According to the American Heart Association, which signed the letter to Hamburg, Americans’ average intake of added sugars is around 22.2 teaspoons per day, or 355 calories. The AHA’s daily-recommended limit for added sugar is 100 calories for women, and 150 for men.

Research by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found more than 33 percent of adults and roughly 17 percent of children and adolescents living in the U.S. are obese.

“Many in the sugar and food industry like to encourage personal responsibility over government regulation of food and ingredients,” the coalition wrote. “Without specific information on the amount of ‘added sugars’ on the labels of food products, consumers can hardly exercise that responsibility and make smarter choices in the grocery aisle.”

Late last year, EWG reviewed the sugar content for more than 80 popular cereals market toward children and found most loaded with the ingredient. In fact, a one-cup serving of the Kellogg's Honey Smacks brand packs more sugar than a Hostess Twinkie, and one cup of any of the 44 other children’s cereals has more sugar than three Chips Ahoy! cookies.

The following organizations signed the letter to Commissioner Hamburg:
Environmental Working Group, 
 American Association for Health Education, American Heart Association, 
Center for Science in the Public Interest, Corporate Accountability International, 
Defeat Diabetes Foundation, 
American Association for Health Education, National Association of School, Nurses
Young People’s Healthy Heart at Mercy Hospital, Indiana Rural Health Association, 
American Society of Bariatric Physicians, 
The FGE Food & Nutrition Team, Cambridge/Somerville WIC
and Iowa Public Health Association

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), the ranking Democrat on the House appropriations subcommittee responsible for funding the FDA, has called on the agency to disclose added sugar.

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