Apr 19, 2019 | Updated: 11:14 AM EDT

FDA Sugar Labeling Policy Potentially a Cost-Effective Way to Generate Important Health Gains

Apr 15, 2019 10:30 AM EDT

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FDA Sugar Labeling Policy for Packaged Foods and Beverages Could Be a Cost-Effective Way to Generate Important Health Gains
(Photo : Image by Igor Ovsyannykov from Pixabay)

In a new study published in the American Heart Association's journal Circulation, over the next 20 years, people of United States could have substantial health and cost-saving benefits with the label showing added sugar content on all packaged foods and sugary drinks. With the aid of the validated model, the researchers estimated a significant reduction in cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes cases from 2018 to 2037, if such mandated addition to the Nutrition Label was implemented.

The mandatory added sugar policy for packaged foods and beverages by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is set to take effect between 2020 and 2021.

The Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Boston, Renata Micha, R.D., Ph.D., said that the purpose of their study was to estimate the impact of the FDA's added sugars label on reducing sugar intake and preventing diabetes and cardiovascular disease. In their results, there was an indication of timely implementation of the added sugars label will reduce consumption of foods and beverages with added sugars that could lead to an improvement in health and a reduction in healthcare spending.

To identify nutrition strategies that can have the most significant impact on improving diet and health in the U.S., researchers conducted the study as part of a National Institutes of Health-funded initiative, Food-PRICE, at Tufts University.

The researchers predicted that between 2018 and 2037 was that the added sugars label would prevent more than 354,000 cases of cardiovascular disease and lead to nearly 600,000 fewer cases of type 2 diabetes. They also estimated the reduction in net healthcare costs to be more than $31 billion, after policy costs have been factored in, and not including societal costs like lost productivity.

The authors of the study also believe that food and beverage-makers will have the encouragement of reformulating their products because of the added sugars label. Consequently, they calculated the impact to be twice as high as having the added sugars label alone, at more than 700,000 fewer cases of cardiovascular disease and 1.2 million fewer cases, with net healthcare cost savings of more than $57 billion.

Micha explained the potential effect the mandated added sugar label would have on sugar content, adding that recent experience with food manufacturers who cut down or removed trans fats from their products after trans fat labeling on products in the U.S. Micha said that mandated labeling of added sugars content would stimulate the food industry to reduce sugar in their products.

In conclusion, Micha said that their discoveries might be conservative and underestimate the full health and economic impacts. Their model only evaluated health benefits and cost-savings from diabetes and cardiovascular disease outcomes. 

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