New Nutrition Label Highlights Added Sugar in Your Diet

You may have heard the news, but a new nutrition label has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration that is bringing about big changes and awareness to millions of people, particularly on the subject of added sugar.

Nutrition labels always served a purpose of informing consumers the nutritional value of the food item they are interested in buying. It always included serving size, calorie count, vitamin content, fat, carbohydrate, sodium content, protein content, dietary fiber content and sugars. But what was missing was the differentiation between naturally occurring sugar in food versus added sugar in food, and making that visible to the public.

And with research that linked the addition of hidden added sugar to a myriad of diseases and obesity in America, the new nutrition label finally brings this hidden monster to light.

added sugar
Humusak / Pixabay

On average, Americans consume 76.7g of added sugar per day. The safe amount of added sugar for women is 24g and for men is 35g. Yikes!! Basically, the average person consumes up to three times their daily allowance of added sugar!

Now why all the hate on added sugar?

Added sugar unlike natural sugar brings tons of calories with no nutritional value to the body when consumed, hence the term “empty calories”. Not to mention is very bad for your teeth, since added sugar feeds harmful bacteria in your mouth.

In small doses, the body can burn off added sugar with no effect; however when someone eats above the safe allowable amount of added sugar, as demonstrated with the average diet, that effect can contribute to diseases such as type II diabetes, fatty-liver disease, inflammation, and cancer. Not to mention added-sugar is pure fructose, which, when consumed in excess, gets stored as fat AND it’s highly addictive quality makes it hard for people to stop eating it.

Basically, it’s a delicious poison!

Now, with all that being said, the new nutrition label promises to bring more heightened awareness, especially about added sugar content, giving consumers better control of what they are putting into their bodies.

So what are the major changes to the label?

1. Refreshed design features

Along with keeping the general iconic look of the label, several features have been added to the new nutrition label that include bigger font sizes for “calories”, bolder text for “serving size”, as well as a required list of vitamins and minerals to display, including vitamin D and Iron.

Also all vitamins and minerals are now required to have gram amounts listed next to them as well.

Groovy.

added sugar
Here is an info graphic that shows the new nutrition label. The big HOORAY comes with the newly added sub-line “Added Sugar” under “Total Sugars”

2. Updated information on Nutrition Science, especially about added sugar

This is by far my favorite change for the nutrition labels. Here is why:

added sugar
And here is a side-by-side comparison between the old nutrition facts label and the new one!

“Added sugars,” in grams and as percent Daily Value, will be included on the label.”

Holy shit, yes!

“Scientific data shows that it is difficult to meet nutrient needs while staying within calorie limits if you consume more than 10 percent of your total daily calories from added sugar, and this is consistent with the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.”

Ok major claps and alleluia on this one.

Back when I first started eating cleaner, some of the things that were tough to determine was how much added-sugar was in the item I was buying.

Read more: 3 Simple Rules of Clean Eating

The old labels would simply say “sugar” and that’s it; but with a tiny bit of extra reading on the label (ingredients list hint hint) would confirm if sugar was added but never how much.

added sugar
oh sugar, you sweet sweet devil!

This drove me CRAZY!!!

So I was just never sure if I was eating natural sugar or mostly-added sugar, which has a different effect on my body.

Now with this new label, I can easily determine how much added sugar I am REALLY consuming, and thereby, have better awareness how much added sugar I am putting into my body.

3. Updates Serving Sizes and Labeling Requirements for Certain Package Sizes

This third group of changes, while realistic and informative, make me worry a little. Here is why:

“By law, serving sizes must be based on amounts of foods and beverages that people are actually eating, not what they should be eating. How much people eat and drink has changed since the previous serving size requirements were published in 1993. For example, the reference amount used to set a serving of ice cream was previously ½ cup but is changing to ⅔ cup. The reference amount used to set a serving of soda is changing from 8 ounces to 12 ounces.”

added sugar “Package size affects what people eat. So for packages that are between one and two servings, such as a 20 ounce soda or a 15-ounce can of soup, the calories and other nutrients will be required to be labeled as one serving because people typically consume it in one sitting.”

So basically, serving sizes increased to reflect how much the average modern American eats and the nutrition label on the packages will indicate the entire package nutrition contents.

>>>>>>>>> SKIP AHEAD IF YOU DON’T WANT TO HEAR ME RANT

A few thoughts on this….

You and I both know that you eat whatever is in front of you; its very compulsive, and while I applaud the FDA for being realistic with its audience and giving them the full facts (which is good!) of the food that they are eating on the label, I little part of me is worried that this new change is implicitly allowing for people to eat more, for the simple reason that people just EAT MORE nowadays.

We know portion sizes are a lot bigger now, and it’s generally not so great to eat all that food in one sitting, yet it still happens, because the situation lends itself to eating more.

Bigger plates or packages = more available food to eat = more food eaten

And the bigger the plate or packaging, the more people will eat. Conversely, the smaller the plate or packaging, the less people will eat. How can we stop overconsumption when the standards of serving size is now increased?! Am I going crazy with this?!?

END OF RANT <<<<<<<<<<<<

When can we expect to see these changes?

Food manufacturers are given the direction to incorporate the new labels by July 26, 2018; so, keep a lookout within the next few years as labels begin to change! You can also read about the other big changes on the FDA website.

I think the new nutrition label will bring along some awareness of how much added sugar you consume on a daily basis and hopefully bring about a more concerted efforts from a better informed public to make healthier decisions with their food.

Who knows? This might lead to the next big health revolution of eliminating the amount of added sugar to the American diet!

Now it’s your turn! How do you feel about the new nutrition label changes? Share and comment below!


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