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CEO DATELINE – AMA, Sugar Association debate warning labels for added sugar

Dec. 4, 2018
By Martin Berman-Gorvine 

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The Sugar Association is firing back at the American Medical Association for recommending that the Food and Drug Administration require warning labels on the front of food packages for products that contain more sugar than advisable, based on the federal government’s dietary guidelines.

The Department of Health and Human Services’ and the Department of Agriculture’s “Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020” recommends consuming less than 10 percent of food calories per day in added sugars, which means no more than 50 grams daily for a 2,000-calorie diet. The AMA said in a Nov. 13 statement it wants the FDA to require warning labels on the front of food packages that can cause consumers to exceed that level, and for the agency to impose limits on the amount of added sugar manufacturers may include in food products “which also make claims about health or nutrient content on the front of their packages.” 

The Sugar Association said it rejects the idea for the warning labels, with CEO Courtney Gaine saying in a Nov. 14 statement that it would “mislead consumers because it is an idea not grounded in science.” She argued that the FDA’s daily value for added sugars is not an upper limit that automatically leads to adverse health outcomes if exceeded, and that “there is no direct link between sugar intake and cardiovascular disease or diabetes.”

By contrast, physician Albert J. Osbahr, a member of the AMA Board of Trustees, argued that eating less sugar “can help prevent debilitating chronic medical conditions, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease which affect millions of Americans.”