The Food and Drug Administration’s new mandatory rules requiring labels on all packaged foods to include added sugars could have significant health benefits for Americans.
Research has determined that the new labeling policy could prevent close to 1 million cases of heart disease and diabetes. And if the labeling requirements influence those in the food industry to reduce the amount of sugar they use in their products, the results could be even greater.
“Our study is the first to estimate the potential health and cost-saving benefits of the FDA’s added sugar labeling,” said Renata Micha, a research associate professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. “We found that, over the next 20 years, the impact of the FDA’s added sugar labeling to nudge consumer choices could save nearly 1 million cases of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, $31 billion in net healthcare costs and $62 billion in societal costs.”
The study “Cost-Effectiveness of the US Food and Drug Administration Added Sugar Labeling Policy for Improving Diet and Health” estimates that consumers will decrease their added sugar intake by 6.8% due to new labeling. The study also analyzed what might happen if the new labeling requirements causes companies to change the ingredients in their products, deducing this could result in an additional 8.25% decrease in sugar intake.
While the new labeling requirements provide an important first step, many health professionals noted educating the public on how to read food labels, and encouraging them to do so, is crucial to seeing the benefits.