Researchers found that consumers believe adding nutritional information about sugar on food labels will be more helpful than confusing.
The FDA proposed to require this information and received 287,874 comments. The comments mostly consisted of arguments, stating that disclosing information about added sugars on food labels will be too confusing. But new research is not in agreement. The Obesity Society and other health organizations are on board with these proposed additions to the Nutrition Facts.
The study found that most adults (63%) believe adding sugar labels will be helpful and only 18% believe it will be confusing. Those who believe it will be helpful, have their health as a primary concern. Those who believe it will be confusing do not have health as a primary concern.
According to Ted Kyle of ConscienHealth, the lead author of the recent study, “Nutritional labeling on packaged food and soft drinks is the most accessible and most accessed source of nutritional information for many Americans.” He goes on to address the correlation between higher consumption of added sugars and obesity and higher rates of cardiovascular disease. If consumers believe they can benefit from knowing how much added sugar is in the products of which they consume, we should definitely give consumers access to that knowledge. Not to mention that consumers should already have access to that knowledge, especially if we are at a time when consumers are expressing a desire to take control of their health, we should, of course, grant them that access.
Added sugars make up 16% of Americans’ total reported energy intake. The American Heart Association recommends that people limit added sugars to less than half the discretionary calorie allowance. This means that Americans are consuming twice as much added sugar that is recommended for men and three times as much recommended for women. With the current labels, it is almost impossible to figure out how much sugar one is consuming. Added sugars can be listed under many different names, some of which would not be recognizable as sugar. The new FDA proposal to disclose the amount of sugars on the Label is the first revision since 1993. Studies including this recent study show that consumers look closely at labels for information pertaining to their health and will even adjust behaviors depending on the labels.
The recent study was conducted for Quantitative Obesity Research at Montclair State University. They surveyed 500 people and asked them how helpful they believed it would be to know how much added sugar is in a food product. They were asked to answer on a 5-point scale from “very confusing” to “very helpful.” Then they were asked the reasoning for their response, “Why do you think it would be helpful or confusing to know the amount of added sugar in a food product?” Belief that the information would be helpful was consistent across most demographics. I am very pleased to hear that the majority of participants believe the information about added sugar will be helpful and they believe it will be helpful for the right reasons. Sometimes we have to move forward one step at a time.
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