12
August
2016
|
10:38 PM
America/Phoenix

No Place to Hide: New Food Label Exposes Hidden Sugars

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No Place to Hide: New Food Label Exposes Hidden Sugars

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After 20 years of using the same Nutrition Facts label on the back of all packaged foods, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says it's time to make a change. The updated labels were announced in May 2016 and will help make it easier for all of us to make better decisions about the foods we eat.

The label changes are based on new scientific information, new nutrition and public health research, more recent dietary recommendations from expert groups, and input from the public.

The 8 key changes to the Nutrition Facts label are: (see graphic below)

  1. Servings: larger, bolder type
  2. Serving sized updated
  3. Calories: larger type
  4. Updated daily values
  5. New: added sugars
  6. Changes in nutrients required
  7. Actual amounts declared
  8. New footnote

Added Sugars in the Spotlight

The rising obesity rates in America are due in part to increased calories from hidden sugars. For years nutrition experts at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona (BCBSAZ) have warned about the dangers of consuming hidden sugars, so we were pleased to see this change as a part of the Nutrition Facts label update. The American Heart Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Institute of Medicine and the World Health Organization all recommend decreasing intake of added sugars as well.

According to the FDA, "Added Sugars" includes sugars that are added to foods during processing and/or packaging, and includes:

  • syrups
  • brown sugar
  • high fructose corn syrup
  • invert sugar
  • maltose
  • trehalose
  • honey
  • molasses
  • sucrose
  • lactose
  • maltose sugar
  • concentrated fruit juice

So make sure to check the packaging for these ingredients. If you find any of the above in the first three ingredients, you might want to consider a healthier food alternative.

According to the FDA, on average Americans get about 13 percent of their total calories from added sugars, with the major sources being:

Sugar-sweetened beverages, such as:

  • soft drinks
  • fruit drinks
  • coffee and tea
  • sport and energy drinks
  • alcoholic beverages

Snacks and sweets, such as:

  • grain-based desserts
  • dairy desserts
  • candies
  • sugars
  • jams
  • syrups
  • sweet toppings

The FDA recognizes that some added sugars can be a part of a healthy diet. But if consumed in excess, it makes it more difficult to also eat foods with enough fiber, essential vitamins and minerals and still stay within your calorie limits.

Bottom line – this new label update will help increase awareness of added sugars in our foods, and in doing so, just might help reduce the consumption of foods with hidden sugars, and ultimately lower our collective risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other life-threatening chronic diseases.

Keep an eye out for the new food label to be adopted in the near future. Manufacturers are required to use the new label by July 26, 2018. (Note: manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales will have an additional year to comply.)

To learn more about the new Nutrition Label updates, visit fda.gov

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Source:
FDA.gov: Changes to the Nutrition Facts Label, http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/LabelingNutrition/ucm385663.htm 
Summary

After 20 years of using the same Nutrition Facts label on the back of all packaged foods, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says it's time to make a change. The updated labels were announced in May 2016 and will help make it easier for all of us to make better decisions about the foods we eat.

Disclaimer

© Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona | An Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.
 

This information is provided for educational purposes only. Individuals should always consult with their healthcare providers regarding medical care or treatment, as recommendations, services or resources are not a substitute for the advice or recommendation of an individual's physician or healthcare provider. Services or treatment options may not be covered under an individual’s particular health plan.