Category Archives: Sugar Consumption

Proposed Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Tax Under Federal Consideration

Three Soda BottlesWe followed the fate of the proposed Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Ban in New York City and watched as it was defeated. Former Mayor Bloomberg’s attempt to curtail the sweet tooth of millions of New Yorkers was met with everything from applause to extreme criticism. A pizzeria in Manhattan actually refused to serve the former mayor a second slice of pizza, telling him that if he wanted to force New Yorkers to count their calories and reduce their sugar intake, the pizzeria could also control his. While that made for some memorable headlines, there are many who still believe that the Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Ban (which applied only to drinks over 16 ounces) was a healthy move for New Yorkers. In that spirit, the federal government is moving towards its own version of health-oriented legislation.

For the first time since 2009, legislation proposing a national tax on soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages is under consideration in the House of Representatives. U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) introduced the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Tax Act — or SWEET Act — last week.

The bill would levy an excise tax on sugar content in beverages. Under the SWEET Act, manufacturers would pay a tax of one cent per teaspoon of sugar or other sweetener added to most beverages. For point of reference, a 20-ounce soda contains 16 teaspoons of sugar. The tax works out to just under a penny-per-ounce of beverage. Drinks such as milk, infant formula, alcoholic beverages and many juices are excluded.

But because the tax is based on amount of sugar and not on ounces of beverage, the federal approach is “a built-in incentive for manufacturers to diminish the concentration of sugar,” says Dr. Lynn Silver with Oakland’s Public Health Institute. Silver and other PHI staff gave input to DeLauro’s staff in formulating the bill and also has been part of the Berkeley coalition that helped draft the measure there.

She said the national approach is different from local efforts, because a graduated tax is “more complicated” to implement at the local level. “It makes more sense at the federal level which has the resources to track down all the beverages and figure out how much they should be taxed,” Silver said. “But for smaller communities, that would be challenging.”
One of the first questions that reasonably pops into people’s minds when they hear about such a bill is what is the possibility of it passing? Silver countered that question with a question: “How many times did health care reform get introduced? Lots. Almost a hundred years before it actually passed — and it passed in pieces, with Medicare and Medicaid each being created separately.”

Silver said she expected “many attempts and incremental efforts to really make change.”

Mexico passed a similar soda tax to the one proposed — a peso per ounce, or about 10 percent — which took effect in January. The Wall Street Journal reported in late February that consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages promptly dropped 5 to 7 percent. At the same time, consumption of diet sodas and bottled water are up.

“I think the first lesson of the Mexican soda tax,” said Silver, “is that it’s working as expected.” People are cutting back on sugary beverages and increasing consumption of more healthy alternatives.

If the SWEET Act passes, the money would go to the Prevention and Public Health Fund created under the Affordable Care Act. In addition to any public health programs the money might fund, a tax is estimated to have modest effects on health, because of reduced consumption of sugar.

A U.C. San Francisco study found that a national penny-per-ounce tax would reduce sugar-sweetened beverage consumption by 15 percent. Researchers said that reduction would lead to modest weight loss and reductions in diabetes. Over 10 years, researchers estimated there would be 26,000 fewer premature deaths, 95,000 fewer instances of heart disease and 8,000 fewer strokes.

The American Beverage Association opposes the tax. A statement on its website is titled, “Taxes Do Not Make People Healthy.”

FoodFacts.com can agree with that general statement. But we’d follow it up with “Taxes can motivate people to consume healthier beverages.”

We all know that as soon as manufacturers are being charged for sugar by the teaspoon in their sodas, iced teas, and some of their juice drinks, they will immediately pass those costs off to their consumers with higher prices. We feel pretty comfortable making the assumption that once prices go up, consumption will go down. Seems like a pretty good reason for those same manufacturers to reduce the amount of sugar in their beverages.

http://blogs.kqed.org/stateofhealth/2014/07/30/national-soda-tax-bill-introduced-in-washington/

Food Fight! Sugar lobbyists and public health advocates at odds over added sugar transparency on food labels

iStock_000001563163SmallFor many of us of a certain generation, the words “Food Fight” will always invoke the memory of John Belushi’s Bluto screaming the phrase in the middle of the cafeteria featured in the classic movie, Animal House. If only the world could always be that simple and funny. This post, however, details a real-life, real-time food fight that has erupted between powerful Big Sugar lobbyists and public health advocates on the heels of the Food And Drug Administration’s proposed changes to nutrition labels that include listing the amount of added sugar in food products.

Here at FoodFacts.com, we think everyone would like to know how much sugar the food industry is actually adding to the products we purchase. We’re sure that even the most uneducated food consumer would choose transparency when it comes to this serious and well-publicized issue.

Scientific studies increasingly are finding links between sugar consumption and chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension. With public health at stake, advocates say, consumers need to be informed of what is being introduced into their food.

“Food producers and others that represent sugar interests are robbing us of this information that we should have access to, they’re robbing us of our health,” said Gretchen Goldman, an analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “People have a right to know how much sugar is in their foods.”
The inclusion of added sugars appears to be a jab from the FDA at food manufacturers, whether the agency intended for it to be or not. Other measurements on nutrition labels—calories, fat, sodium—are passive: They simply state how much is in the food. But the added sugars measurement is active: It implies that the company the consumer is purchasing from has included something that could be dangerous in high doses over the long term.

Food business groups argue that a gram of sugar, natural or added, is a gram of sugar—so why distinguish it?

“There is no chemical difference between naturally occurring sugars or added sugars, and…there is no scientific evidence that added sugars are linked to obesity or other chronic diseases,” said Lee Sanders, a spokeswoman for the American Bakers Association.

But foods containing added sugar are among the most unhealthy, supporters of the FDA proposal say, and more information is a good way for consumers to be more conscious of that.

“The food industry response has said that the body doesn’t distinguish between added and natural sugar, and that’s true…but we do no harm by limiting added sugar, and we know it’s a good way to limit calorie intake. It seems to be a logical step to include added sugars on the label,” said Rachel Johnson, a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association and a professor of nutrition at the University of Vermont.

The American Heart Association, which supports the label change, came out with a scientific statement in 2009 that recommends no more than six teaspoons of sugar a day for women, and nine teaspoons a day for men, citing the body of evidence that connects high intake of sugar to health problems.

Big Sugar, advocates say, is employing strategies reminiscent of Big Tobacco in its heyday.

“[They’re] different players, but it’s the same game,” Goldman said. “We’re seeing the exact same tactics that Big Tobacco was using. They’re trying to manufacture doubt in the science, they’re trying to pay their own experts to carry their talking points, and they’re doing these things with the intent to undermine public policy.”

Industry also has other objections to the proposed change to nutrition labels: Sanders, from the bakers’ lobbying group, said it would be “difficult, if not impossible, to calculate added sugar.” The FDA acknowledges the costs of the rule change for businesses, estimating that the one-time expenditure would be $2.3 billion for labeling, reformulation of products, and record keeping.

And there are more individualized concerns. The International Dairy Foods Association, for example, is concerned that the definition of added sugar includes natural sugars isolated from a whole food and concentrated so that sugar is the primary component—fruit juice concentrate, for example. That would affect the added sugar count for dairy products such as whey, nonfat dry milk, or milk protein concentrate.

The proposed FDA change appears to have left the biggest of the industry lobbying groups unenthusiastic about communicating with the media. A Sugar Association spokeswoman, Tonya Allen, declined to speak by phone on the issue, pointing only to a weeks-old statement put out by the organization. The Corn Refiners Association did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Stakeholders and business groups have until August 1 to comment on the proposed change. The FDA then will review the comments and consider them in edits to the proposed label, followed by the enactment of a final label. Industry will then, under the proposed rules, have a two-year transitional period over which to comply with the new requirements.

Over the next two weeks, as the FDA comments period draws to a close, industry groups are expected to turn up the heat on the proposal.

“The food industry knows that when they add it to food, you buy more. They don’t add it for any other reason,” said Dr. Robert Lustig, a University of California-San Francisco professor who has campaigned against sugar consumption. “You [currently] can’t tell how much sugar has been added, and the food industry wants it that way.”

Read that last quote carefully. We can’t tell how much sugar has been added to our food. We’re being told to keep sugar consumption to between 6 and 9 teaspoons per day (depending on our gender). It appears we don’t know how much sugar we’re consuming and lobbyists are trying to keep it that way. And it certainly doesn’t appear that the “sugar is sugar” argument being made by the sugar lobby has much to do with the problem. The problem originates with the question, “how sweet is sweet enough?” The food industry wants to continue to answer that question without transparency or input. We’re hopeful that the FDA will begin making these major changes next month.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/07/19/guess-who-doesn-t-want-you-to-know-how-much-added-sugar-is-in-your-food.html

Dunkin’s newest summertime treat … the Frozen Oreo Coffee Coolatta

1398160875255It had to happen sooner or later, after all there are Oreos featured in hundreds of different products. Ice cream, ice cream cake, pudding, cheesecake, cereal, cake frosting … Oreos are everywhere. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Dunkin Donuts latest Coolatta features the Oreo.

On the Dunkin website, the new Coolatta flavor is promoted as “The Best of Both Worlds. The perfect blend of everything that’s delicious in the world. Our signature Frozen Coffee flavor with delicious OREO® cookie pieces mixed in. Just what your taste buds ordered.” O.k. maybe it’s what someone’s taste buds ordered, but what about someone’s healthy lifestyle?

Let’s find out.

Right away, it’s easy to notice that the nutrition facts for the new Dunkin Frozen Coffee Oreo Coolatta leave a lot to be desired. The facts listed are for the medium size of the beverage (the most common size sold for frozen drinks). It’s also for the skim milk version, because we’re being kind.

Calories:           440
Fat:                   4.5 g
Sugar:              83 g

That’s right, 83 grams of sugar in the medium-sized drink — or to be more specific 20.75 teaspoons of sugar in just one Frozen Coffee Oreo Coolatta. Imagine that for a moment if you will; someone adding 20.75 teaspoons of sugar into a 24 ounce beverage. That’s almost a teaspoon of sugar per ounce. A bit much for us.

Here are the ingredients:

Frozen Coffee Base: Water, Frozen Coffee Concentrate (Water, Sugar, Coffee Extract, Caramel Color, Natural and Artificial Flavor); Skim Milk; Oreo® Chocolate Base Cake Cookie Crumbs: Unbleached Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Sugar, Canola Oil, Cocoa processed with alkali, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Leavening (Baking Soda and/or Calcium Phosphate), Salt, Soy Lecithin, Chocolate, Vanillin (an Artificial Flavor).

So for 440 calories, we would be enjoying caramel color, natural and artificial flavors and some high fructose corn syrup.

FoodFacts.com can definitely find a better use for 440 calories during any given day. So for us, this is one of many Oreo-laden treats in which we won’t be indulging.

http://www.dunkindonuts.com/content/dunkindonuts/en/menu/beverages/frozenbeverages/coffee1/oreo_frozen_coffee_coolatta.html?DRP_FLAVOR=Oreo&DRP_SIZE=Medium&DRP_DAIRY=Skim+Milk

Could drinking soda raise your risk of breast cancer?

Woman in cinema. Beautiful young woman drinking soda while sitting at the cinemaSoda consumption is back in the news. This time, though, that news is reporting on much more than how sugar consumption is linked to the obesity crisis, diabetes and heart disease (as if those problems weren’t enough). FoodFacts.com didn’t actually need any further convincing that soda is an unnecessary beverage — too much sugar, too many bad ingredients and no nutritional benefits whatsoever have left us with a bad taste in our mouths.

Sugary drinks are notorious for their health hazards, and unfortunately, Americans are nowhere close to giving them up. A 2012 Gallup poll found that 48 percent of Americans surveyed drank soda on a daily basis. Of the 48 percent who consumed soda daily, the average intake of the beverage is 2.6 glasses a day.

And if you think a lack of awareness is to blame, then think again! A study from the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, Center for Science in the Public Interest, and Interlex Communications found that most Americans know that drinking soda is bad for you.

Now, researchers have found yet another troubling association with soda consumption: a higher risk of breast cancer in women. Specifically, the scientists discovered that the more sugary drinks a woman consumed, the more density her breasts would have. Breast density is a well-known risk factor for breast cancer, since there is less fatty tissue and more cells that are at risk of becoming cancerous.

“Among all women, those who had a sugary drink intake of more than three servings per week had a mean of 29.6 percent in breast density, but those who did not drink this type of drink had a mean of 26.2 percent in breast density,” said the lead author of the study, Dr. Caroline Diorio from Laval University in Quebec. “An increase of about 3 percent in breast density is not negligible in terms of breast cancer risk. By comparison, it has been shown that healthy women at high risk of developing breast cancer who received (the breast cancer drug) tamoxifen for four-and-a-half years had a reduction of 6.4 percent in breast density, and it has been observed that tamoxifen can reduce the risk of breast cancer by 30 to 50 percent in high-risk women.”

So in addition to all the other valid concerns surrounding soda, this new association with breast cancer is certainly an eye-opening one. While we understand that soda sales have dropped, we know that millions of consumers are still consuming these beverages — and consuming them in excess. We do hope that research like this makes its way into the consciousness of those consumers and that they take it seriously.

http://wallstcheatsheet.com/life/breast-cancer-and-4-other-health-issues-linked-to-drinking-soda.html/

What’s not a diet soda, but not a regular soda? Coming soon to the U.S. … Coke Life

0616_coke_life_970-630x420Soda drinkers have a bit of a problem these days. The widely held opinion used to be that diet sodas were a better choice than sugared sodas. Now, though, the artificial sweeteners in sugared sodas are linked to actual weight gain, instead of weight loss. Their sugary counterparts are under fire for contributing to the obesity crisis, in addition to the rise in diabetes and heart disease. Of course, for those of us who aren’t soda drinkers, both diet and regular sodas are the equivalent of chemical nightmares. But soda drinkers are having a hard time figuring out what to do. So much so that soda sales have steadily declined over the last 9 years. Consumers aren’t happy with soda choices and it’s beginning influence manufacturer decisions.

Coca-Cola, notably, is responding. There’s a new Coke on the horizon. Packaged in a green can that most of us aren’t yet familiar with, Coke Life is Coca-Cola’s answer to consumer concerns. Sweetened with stevia, this new version of regular Coke has been released in Argentina and Chili. This coming fall, it will debut in the U.K. It’s worth pointing out that this is the first new addition to Coke branded sodas in almost eight years.

Coke Life isn’t exactly a diet drink. It contains more than four tablespoons of real sugar and has about 89 calories per can—less than the 140 calories found in a can of regular Coke, but hardly something that will be championed by the quinoa crowd.

Instead, Coke Life is Coca-Cola’s answer to the two health concerns that have been hitting the company’s soda sales with a one-two punch: the anti-sugar movement, which rails against its full-calorie, full-sugar line of beverages, and the perception that artificial sweeteners such as aspartame (found in both Diet Coke and Coke Zero) are unhealthy and can even contribute to weight gain.

These concerns have contributed to a steady nine-year decline in U.S. soda sales. Last year they slid even further—dropping 3 percent, or more than double the 1.2 percent they’d fallen the year before. (Soda is already down a further 2 percent this year.) Diet soda sales withstood the decline for a while; now they appear to be tumbling, too. Last year, Diet Coke sales in the U.S. dropped nearly 7 percent, according to Beverage Digest.

As soda sales have fallen, Coke has also found itself fending off health-policy experts and state governments pushing for increased regulation of sugary drinks and snacks. New York City’s limit on soda container sizes is currently making its way through state courts, and a California law that would add a warning label to cans saying, “Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay” has made it through the state senate, despite heavy lobbying by the local arm of the American Beverage Association (of which Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are members). In the U.K., where Coke Life will make its next debut, Coca-Cola has agreed to reduce the average calories in its sodas by 5 percent by the end of this year.

Coca-Cola has more than 100 years of experience fighting health crazes and government regulation campaigns. In 1906 the U.S. government sued the company in attempt to get it to abandon caffeine. (It lost.) In 1950, a Cornell professor named Clive McCay testified before a Congressional committee on food additives that Coke could eat through teeth. (Not true.) But so many drink choices are now available that Americans’ current move away from soda doesn’t appear to be temporary.

At the moment, Coke Life doesn’t have a U.S. debut date. Given the company’s heavy investment in stevia-based drinks—in 2007, Coca-Cola and Cargill teamed up to create Truvia, a consumer brand of stevia sweetener—it seems likely that the drink will soon see much wider release.

While Coke Life may in fact offer less sugar than regular soda and healthier sugar than both regular and diet soda, it still contains about 4 teaspoons of sugar in every can. That’s still too much when you consider the new recommendations of 6 teaspoons per day for men and 9 for women.

Step in the right direction? For some, maybe. But then there’s us. Here at FoodFacts.com, sugar is just part of our concerns — a big part, undoubtedly, but still only a part. At the end of the day, it will still be a Coke that’s sweetened differently. The changes in the ingredient list won’t go far enough. We’ll still be left with plenty of items on the ingredient list that we can’t bring ourselves to consume. Still soda. Still a problem.

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-06-17/cokes-new-low-cal-low-sugar-soda-is-designed-to-quiet-critics

Dunkin’s newest Coolatta … the Frozen Arnold Palmer

iStock_000021757029Small (1)Summertime is here, and along with it new introductions of iced and frozen beverage from the fast food chains. The Dunkin Donuts Coolatta has been providing consumers with an icy cold way to beat the heat since 1997. Flavors have ranged from coffee varieties to strawberry, orange and blue raspberry in addition to the popular vanilla bean.

For a variety of reasons, FoodFacts.com hasn’t been a tremendous fan of the Coolatta. Some of those reasons are artificial colors and too much sugar. But we stand by the idea that every new product introduction deserves a fair chance. So when Dunkin announced the new Frozen Arnold Palmer Coolatta, we waited to take a look at the nutrition facts and ingredient list before we decided we wouldn’t be trying it.

It’s official now, though, we won’t be trying it. We wanted to fill you in on how we came to that decision.

Here are the nutrition facts for the medium size drink

Calories:                 270
Fat:                         0 g
Sodium:                 35 mg
Sugar:                    67 g

We’re highlighting the medium drink because this is the most common size sold. We’re not attempting to make it appear worse than it is. We’re certain we don’t like the idea of spending 270 calories on a drink. To put it into further perspective, the medium Frozen Arnold Palmer Coolatta weighs in at 16 ounces. A 20 ounce bottle of Pepsi has 250 calories. That’s four ounces more for 20 calories less. That same bottle of Pepsi has roughly the same amount of sugar as this frozen beverage. Everyone in our community already knows how we feel about soda. Since the nutrition facts here look quite comparable, our feelings are pretty much the same.

Here’s the ingredient list:

Frozen Neutral Base: Water, Neutral Base (Sugar, Glucose, Fructose, Silicon Dioxide, Malic Acid, Xanthan Gum); Arnold Palmer Half & Half Coolatta Base: Lemon Juice from Concentrate, Pear Juice from Concentrate, Filtered Water, Citric Acid, Black Tea, Natural Flavor, Dextrose, Xanthan Gum, Sucralose, Gum Acacia, Acesulfame Potassium, Ester Gum.

O.k. there aren’t any artificial colors in the Frozen Arnold Palmer Coolatta. But there are still many ingredients we really don’t like. More importantly, we have a serious question about these ingredients. There’s so much sugar in here — a little over 11 TEASPOONS in 16 ounces. You can see the Sugar, Glucose and Fructose listed. Why then, was it necessary to make things even worse with the addition of Acesulfame Potassium to the ingredients?  Someone thought they needed to sweeten the beverage even more — we get that. But it isn’t a “diet” drink, so how did it make sense to add artificial sweetener to the product?

FoodFacts.com’s assessment: we don’t need 11 teaspoons of sugar in 16 ounces of anything. As the weather heats up, we still like actual brewed, unsweetened iced tea. And if we want to sweeten it, we like deciding on the sweetener we use — and controlling how much of it we’ll be consuming.

http://www.dunkindonuts.com/content/dunkindonuts/en/menu/beverages/frozenbeverages/coolatta/new_frozen_arnold_palmer_coolatta.html?DRP_FLAVOR=Frozen+Arnold+Palmer&DRP_SIZE=Medium

Shamrock Shakes from McDonald’s … did you get yours this St. Patrick’s Day?

366305547,366305548,366305549.jpgWe were wondering … and if you did, do you know what was in it?

It’s an unmistakable concoction. The Shamrock Shake is bright green (a little too bright for our taste here at FoodFacts.com). One look and you know for certain that this is a St. Patrick’s Day specialty, of the same order of the green beer and green eggs and ham sold at local pubs all around the country to celebrate this particularly festive holiday when everyone experiences some good Irish cheer.

So in case you did run into your local McDonald’s and grab one, we thought we’d take some time to tell you exactly what you consumed. It isn’t pretty (even if you really like the shade of green featured in your cup).

We’ll begin with the ingredient list:

Ice Cream Reduced Fat (Milk, Sugar, Cream, Milk Nonfat Solids, Corn Syrup Solids, Mono and Diglycerides, Guar Gum, Dextrose, Sodium Citrate, Flavors Artificial Vanilla, Sodium Phosphate, Carrageenan, Disodium Phosphate, Cellulose Gum, Vitamin A Palmitate) ,Syrup (Corn Syrup High Fructose, Corn Syrup, Water, Sugar, Flavors Natural, Xanthan Gum, Citric Acid, Sodium Benzoate, Yellow 5, Blue 1) , Cream Whipped (Cream, Milk Nonfat, Corn Syrup, Sugar, Corn Syrup High Fructose, Contains 1% or less of the following: [Mono and Diglycerides, Carrageenan, Polysorbate 80, Beta Carotene,Flavoring Artificial and Natural, Tocopherols Mixed Vitamin E] ) , Cherries Maraschino(Cherries, Water, Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup High Fructose, Sugar, Malic Acid, Citric Acid,Flavoring Artificial and Natural, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Red 40,Sulphur Sulfur Dioxide [Contains Sulfite] )

To save you from actually having to count the ingredients, there are 54 of them. Seems a bit heavy handed to us for one shake. To make matters even worse, 20 of those ingredients are controversial. And that bright green color that qualifies it as a “Shamrock Shake,” that’s Yellow 5 and Blue 1. We’d like to point out that while the shake is green, there’s no such thing as Shamrock flavor, so we’re not exactly sure what McDonald’s was going for here. At least the Irish Creme coffees from Dunkin Donuts are trying to simulate Irish Creme flavor. This is just a green shake with bad ingredients.

The nutrition facts for the Shamrock Shake are no better. Let’s take a look at the 16 oz. medium size shake:

Calories:                             660
Fat:                                      19 g
Saturated Fat:                   12 g
Cholesterol:                       75 mg
Sugar:                                 93 g

Yes, you read that right. There are 93 g of sugar in a medium Shamrock Shake. That’s 23.5 TEASPOONS OF SUGAR. Wow! The World Health Organization wants us to limit sugar intake to 6 teaspoons a day. So one medium Shamrock Shake is almost 4 DAYS worth of sugar intake.

If you treated yourself to a Shamrock Shake this St. Patrick’s Day, you might want to count your sugar grams carefully for the remainder of the week. If you didn’t have one, don’t feel badly about missing out on McDonald’s once a year green “treat.” Oh, and either way, next year, you can find plenty of other, far better treats to indulge in for a little Erin Go Bragh. Sometimes we can take a sweet treat much too far!

http://www.foodfacts.com/ci/nutritionfacts/DessertsShakes/McDonalds-McCafe-McShamrock-Shake-Medium-16-fl-oz/91918

How tough would it be to eat just 6 teaspoons of sugar every day?

sugar.jpgIt sounds like a simple enough challenge, doesn’t it?  You might be thinking that you don’t add sugar to your foods or that you don’t use much sugar in your coffee.  But FoodFacts.com wants you to think really carefully about that question, because it certainly isn’t as simple as it might appear.

In a new guideline on sugar consumption, the World Health Organization reiterates its 2002 recommendation that no more than 10% of daily calories come in the form of sugar. But this time around, the WHO adds that people would get additional benefits if they can keep their sugar consumption below 5% of daily calories.

That’s likely to be a tall order. For an adult with a normal body mass index, 5% of daily calories works out to about 25 grams of sugar, or six teaspoons, the WHO says.

In an announcement on its website, the WHO says it is offering new guidance on sugar consumption in response to research documenting its deleterious effects: “There is increasing concern that consumption of free sugars, particularly in the form of sugar-sweetened beverages, may result in both reduced intake of foods containing more nutritionally adequate calories and an increase in total caloric intake, leading to an unhealthy diet, weight gain and increased risk of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs).”
Worries about cavities and other dental problems played a role too, WHO says: “Dental diseases are the most prevalent NCDs globally and … continue to cause pain, anxiety, functional limitation and social handicap through tooth loss, for large numbers of people worldwide.”

A study published last month in JAMA Internal Medicine reported that a whopping 71.4% of American adults get more than 10% of their calories from sugar. Even worse, the study linked higher levels of sugar consumption with an increased risk of death due to cardiovascular disease.

Added sugars go by many names when they are listed on nutrition labels of processed foods. Some of their aliases include high fructose corn syrup, anhydrous dextrose, maltose, evaporated cane juice and fruit juice concentrates.

So let’s take a FoodFacts.com look at three meals on a busy day for a U.S. consumer who is not eating food prepared at home and is somewhat careful about the foods he or she is choosing. Perhaps there was a bowl of Quaker Instant Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal for breakfast before running to work, then lunch at Panera Bread with a co-worker for the Low-Fat Garden Vegetable Soup with Pesto and a soft roll, then two slices of a Kashi Margherita Pizza for a quick dinner before the gym. We won’t even count snacks and beverages. At the end of the day, those three meals cost that consumer 7 and a half teaspoons of sugar. Add a few snacks and drinks into the mix and we’re more than one and a half teaspoons over the World Health Organization recommendation.

The scenario we just detailed is for someone making “better” choices. We can only imagine the teaspoon count for someone who isn’t. It’s eye-opening to realize that a small chocolate shake at McDonald’s contains 15 teaspoons of sugar … or that drinking two cans of regular coke adds 19 teaspoons of sugar to your daily intake.

It’s time for everyone in America to start taking added sugar seriously and counting up those grams on a daily basis. How much sugar are you really eating every day?

http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-added-sugar-who-six-teaspoons-per-day-20140305,0,4431783.story#ixzz2vcANtHIZ

A more detailed look at proposed nutrition label changes

nutrition.jpgBack in January, the FDA announced that it would be considering changes to the current nutrition labels that have been making a mandatory appearance on food products here in the U.S. for the last 20 years. We were excited by the idea and have been waiting to see what those changes would entail.

There’s news to report and we think you’ll be happy with the information that’s becoming available regarding the proposed changes.

First, here are some interesting facts on the background of our current nutrition labeling system. It wasn’t until the late 1960s that most food labels listed any nutrition information. At the time, labels with calorie or sodium counts were mainly used on products the FDA considered to have “special dietary uses,” for people with high blood pressure who were watching sodium, for instance. Most people were making meals at home then, so there wasn’t a huge demand for this information. That changed as more people started eating processed foods.

Noticing the trend, the White House pulled together a conference of nutritionists and food manufacturers in 1969. Nutrition labeling was voluntary at first. It wasn’t until 1990 that the FDA required nutrition labels for most prepared and packaged foods. We take it for granted, twenty-plus years later, that whatever packaged food we pick up in the grocery store will carry that familiar, easy-to-identify label that gives us necessary facts about that particular food item.

Plenty has changed in the last 20 years and the FDA is proposing several modifications to those labels to bring them current with today’s nutritional concerns. If approved, the new labels would place a bigger emphasis on total calories, added sugars and certain nutrients, such as Vitamin D and potassium.

The FDA is also proposing changes to serving size requirements in an effort to more accurately reflect what people usually eat or drink. For example, if you buy a 20-ounce soda, you’re probably not going to stop drinking at the 8-ounce mark. The new rules would require that entire soda bottle to be one serving size — making calorie counting simpler.

“You as a parent and a consumer should be able to walk into your local grocery store, pick up an item off the shelf, and be able to tell whether it’s good for your family,” first lady Michelle Obama said in a press release. “So this is a big deal, and it’s going to make a big difference for families all across this country.”

The proposed labels would remove the “calories from fat” line you currently see on labels, focusing instead on total calories found in each serving. Nutritionists have come to understand that the type of fat you’re eating matters more than the calories from fat. As such, the breakdown of total fat vs. saturated and trans fat would remain.

The proposed labels would also note how much added sugar is in a product. Right now, it’s hard to know what is naturally occurring sugar and what has been added by the manufacturer.

“Now when Americans pull a product from the supermarket shelf, they will have a clear idea of how much sugar that product really contains,” American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown said.

The FDA also plans to update the daily values for certain nutrients such as sodium, dietary fiber and Vitamin D. For instance, the daily limit for sodium was 2,400 milligrams. If the new rules take effect, the daily value will be 2,300 milligrams, administration officials said.

Food and beverage companies would also be required to declare the amount of Vitamin D and potassium in a product, as well as calcium and iron. Research shows Americans tend not to consume enough Vitamin D for good bone health. And potassium is essential in keeping your blood pressure in check.

Administration officials said about 17% of current serving size requirements will be changing, and the FDA is adding 25 categories for products that weren’t commonly around 20 years ago (think pot stickers, sesame oil and sun-dried tomatoes).

Most of the required serving sizes will be going up; no one eats just half a cup of ice cream, for instance. Others, like yogurt, will be going down.

“This will help people better understand how many calories they actually consume, especially if they plan to eat all the food in a container or package,” Brown said.

While the American Heart Association and advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest commended the FDA’s changes, they noted that there was more to do.

Both organizations said the FDA’s sodium recommendation was still too high. Brown said the association will continue to recommend sodium intake be limited to 1,500 milligrams a day.

CSPI said it will also request that the FDA include a daily value of 25 grams for added sugars. “Thus, the Nutrition Facts label for a 16.9-ounce bottle of soda would indicate that its 58 grams of added sugars represents 230 percent of the DV,” the group said in an e-mail.

With this announcement, the FDA has opened a 90-day comment period, during which experts and members of the public can provide input on the proposed rules. The FDA will then issue a final rule. Officials said they hope to complete the process this year. Manufacturing companies will then have two years to implement the changes.

FoodFacts.com is very excited by the changes outlined by the FDA for so many reasons. The changes in serving sizes are especially important because the currently, they don’t really reflect how most people consume foods. When people take a can of soup to the office for lunch they’re likely consuming the whole can — not half of it. The label that details two servings isn’t a realistic portrayal of consumption and can easily be misinterpreted. Do most people double the facts on the label to figure out what they’re eating? Do you count 15 potato chips out of a bag or a bowl to make sure that what the nutrition label details is what you’re actually eating? There are multiple examples of this scenario you can find looking at the nutrition labels detailed for products in the FoodFacts.com database. The truth is that right now, it’s far too easy to be fooled into thinking you’re consuming less of the things you’re supposed to be paying attention to than you in fact are.

These improvements to nutrition labels are welcome and long overdue. The fat, sugar and salt content of foods is a big issue for consumers and every change that can help us genuinely determine what we’re really eating is a welcome change for our health.

http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/27/health/nutrition-labels-changes/index.html

Deck the halls with too much sugar …

And fat. And calories.

It’s that time of year … and everyone is looking for a sweet treat, a little indulgence, or maybe a new flavor that reminds them of the season. Holidays are all about taste for many and the major chains here in the U.S. are ready to deliver. Especially at the popular coffee retailers, we can rest assured that our holiday cravings will be satisfied by an ever-evolving flavor selection that will most likely contain ingredients we don’t like and more sugar than they usually include.

This year Starbucks is no exception. While we can’t put our finger on the ingredient lists in these holiday coffees, we can fill you in on some of the basics!

Caramel Brulée Latte
This treat is espresso with steamed milk, caramel brulee sauce topped off with sweetened whipped cream and caramel brulee topping. And for a 12 ou. cup with 2% milk, here’s what you get:

Calories: 340
Total Fat: 11g
Saturated Fat: 6g – 30% of your daily recommended intake
Sugars: 40g — 10 teaspoons of sugar

Gingerbread Latte
A new holiday flavor – espresso with steamed milk, gingerbread flavor syrup, spice-infused whipped cream and a molasses drizzle. Our teeth start to hurt just reading that. Here’s why:

Calories: 260
Total Fat: 11g
Saturated Fat: 6g – 30% of your daily recommended intake
Sugars: 29g — A little more than 7 teaspoons of sugar

Eggnog Latte
Here we have espresso with steamed eggnog and milk topped off with ground nutmeg. At least there’s no whipped cream – that would have really pushed it over the top. Take a look:

Calories: 370
Total Fat: 17g
Saturated Fat: 10g – 50% of your daily recommended intake
Sugars: 39g – Just about 10 teaspoons of sugar

We’ll admit, these are fun and interesting flavors. And as the weather turns colder, even hearing the names of these hot coffee drinks can make you sigh with comfort. But let’s stop a second. Do any of us really need to spend almost 400 calories on our morning coffee? Do we need as much fat content in a cup as we can get from a lean beef patty? And more saturated fat than you’d find in a lean pork chop?

And let’s not forget about all that sugar. It is the holiday season after all. So odds are, most are consuming extra sugar without even getting to a distinctive flavored coffee selection. Folks are bringing baked goods into their offices. There are Christmas cookies and rugala for Hanukkah and gingerbread houses and Kwanzaa cake and candy canes and truffles … we could go on and on.

So especially at this time of the year, between seven and ten teaspoons of sugar in a medium coffee is really off the charts. FoodFacts.com can’t remember a time we’ve actually seen anyone willingly put that much sugar teaspoon by teaspoon in one cup. So Starbucks, while they sound great, we’d actually rather indulge our holiday cravings (sparingly) on some of those other treats that someone actually prepared from scratch in a kitchen with ingredients we know. We’re betting that a few of those won’t contain 10 teaspoons of sugar.

http://www.starbucks.com/menu/drinks/espresso/eggnog-latte
http://www.starbucks.com/menu/drinks/espresso/gingerbread-latte
http://www.starbucks.com/menu/drinks/espresso/caramel-brul%C3%A9e-latte