There’s been a lot of news about taxing sugar-sweetened beverages as one way to improve people’s health and raise revenue that could be used for anti-obesity initiatives or other community programs. While controversial, many public health experts think this could be one way to encourage people to consume fewer sugary drinks and therefore help curb obesity in kids and adults.
It’s no secret that too much added sugar is bad for your health. Among other health risks, sugar adds calories, which may lead to weight gain. Too much body fat causes about 130,600 cases of cancer in the U.S. each year. Eating lots of sugary foods can also mean less room for cancer-protective foods, like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.
For a while, it seemed like Americans couldn’t get enough sugar, but that trend may be turning around suggests a new study. Published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the study finds that intake of added sugar increased from the mid-1970s to the early 2000s and then began to dip, mostly because people were drinking less sugary beverages.
The downward trend in added sugar consumption continued through at least 2012.
Today the Food and Drug Administration announced it will be making major changes to the Nutrition Facts Label found on US packaged foods. The American Institute for Cancer Research applauds these changes, which will take place over the next three years. Here’s how the new information can help you lower your cancer risk.
1. Calories are big and bold. If you’re trying to lose weight or stay at a healthy weight, knowing how these foods fit into your diet is important. You can see at a glance whether these calories fit your needs and easily compare to other foods for the smartest choice.
2. Serving sizes are more realistic. You will be able to know more accurately how many calories you’re getting because servings sizes are more in line with typical portions Americans eat. For packages where people usually eat or drink it all in one sitting, such as a 20 ounce soda, the calories and other nutrients will refer to the entire package.
3. Added sugars are now on the label. This is important for cancer prevention, because now you’ll know how much sugar has been added to foods like yogurt, flavored milks and sweetened fruit drinks. AICR research shows that eating food and drinks high in sugar can lead to overweight and obesity, which is a cause of 11 different types of cancer. AICR, along with other health organizations, urged the FDA to make this change.
The new label will list vitamin D and potassium, for which many Americans struggle to meet the recommended daily amount. Vitamins A and C will no longer be required on the label.
As always, AICR recommends choosing minimally processed foods like vegetables, fruits and other plant foods as often as possible. When you do reach for a packaged food product, these changes will make it easier to make informed choices about what you eat.