Thursday, September 3, 2015

How Did the FDA Determine the "Daily Value" for Added Sugars?

Last month I posted a blog about the FDA's new proposed changes to food labels on processed foods (see this blog Aug. 2, 2015). One of the most controversial changes was the one that defined for the first time what should be the maximum daily consumption of "added sugar" per day. Those are the so-called empty calories of sugars that food producers add to processed foods and soft drinks solely to get you to buy more of them. The FDA says that the maximum daily consumption of added sugars, which they call the "daily value" (DV), should be no more than 200 calories (50 grams) per day - the amount in just a single 16-oz soda.

Since then several people have asked me: How did the FDA come up with that number? The answer is that the FDA is relying on the Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, a governmental panel of scientists charged with reviewing the available scientific research and making recommendations regarding a healthy diet. The Committee found that high intakes of added sugars are associated with increased risks of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes, and concluded that "strong evidence supports reducing added sugars intake to reduce health risks."

The FDA says that according to the available scientific evidence, "it is difficult to meet nutrient needs while staying within caloric requirements if one exceeds 10% of total calories from added sugar." The FDA already uses a figure of 2,000 calories per day as the standard daily caloric intake; multiplying by 10% yields a figure of no more than 200 calories should come from added sugar.

By the way, the FDA says that the government "has no specific recommendation for added sugars"; that it is only providing the information to help consumers make informed choices. Really? A maximum daily value of no more than 200 calories doesn't sound like a "recommendation" to you?

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