The United States Food and Drug Administration's (FDA's) proposed changes to one of the most iconic, well-recognized designs to all Americans, were presented by First Lady Michelle Obama Thursday. The changes are much more than a new design and adding a few numbers to the panel.
From a broader perspective, the FDA's proposed changes reflect a shift in the chance that health care changes in the future will be a tailwind rather than a headwind to American jobs and prosperity. After 30 years of US obesity rates climbing, there is a shift towards creating solutions that are in favor of American consumers, rather than the powerful food industry.
The FDA estimates that the changes will mean a one-time cost of $2.3 billion to the food industry for labeling, reformulation, and record keeping, plus small annual costs for recurring record-keeping. However the FDA also predicts that over the next 20 years, these changes will save an average of $21.1 billion to $31.4 billion in healthcare costs.
Two key changes : Calories per container and per more accurate portions, and Added Sugars.
The LA Times Editorial writers are MISINFORMED ABOUT ADDED SUGARS
In an editorial posted by the LA Times on February 28, 2014, the Times editorial board stated "One of the most noticeable change - and the least justifiable - would be the addition of a new sub-category: the number of added sugar in the food". They then go on to say that "Doctors and dietitians have declared that there is no nutritional difference between naturally occurring sugars such as fructose (in fruit juice) and the sugars that are added)".
Frankly, the Times editorial board could not be more incorrect with their statements. The LA Times excels in BS (Bad Science).
Science in the field of nutrition continues to emerge and the most current evidence indicates that there are distinct physiological differences between naturally occurring and added sugars - the key is how fast and how much they raise your blood sugar...added sugars raise them faster which means greater cancer spread and greater heart disease risk.
REDUCING INTAKE OF ADDED SUGARS
There is a reason why the American Heart Association recommends that women and men should get no more than 100 calories per day (or 6 teaspoons) and 150 calories per day (or 9 teaspoons), respectively from added sugar. There is also a very good reason that the Cleveland Clinic Go! Healthy Foods criteria require that main entrees and desserts contain no more than four grams of added sugar that side dishes contain two grams or less.
Two credible institutions like the American Heart Association and Cleveland Clinic Foundation have the same reason for recommending limited consumption of added sugars; the most credible scientific evidence demonstrates that greater blood sugar causes heart disease, dementia, strokes, impotence, skin wrinkling, and yes cancer spread and malignancy degree.
Added sugars also contribute zero nutrients with many added calories, which contributes to excess body weight. A 2012 meta-analysis concluded that intake of dietary sugars, which specifically looked at "free sugars" also known as added sugars, was associated with changes in body weight. Advice to increase intake of free sugars was associated with a 0.75kg increase in body weight.
DEATH FROM HEART DISEASE
A study published in February 2014 found a significant association between individuals who consumed 10% or more of calories from added sugars and cardiovascular disease mortality. Mortality was 175% higher among those with the higher intake of added sugar.
Among the other positive changes that have been proposed are making calories bigger, revising serving sizes to better reflect what consumers actually eat, and adding a dual column for per serving and per container nutrition information. While these are all important changes, the biggest success that I see is the new line for added sugars.
These changes are good news for you because soon you will have the ability to make more informed health choices and hopefully it will incentive food manufacturers to reformulate their products for the better. Since 84% of all health costs in America are caused by managing chronic disease, and are caused by four factors - unmanaged stress, tobacco, physical inactivity, and food choices and portion size, these changes could be big deals.
Those changes will decrease chronic medical disease, and costs, and make the USA more competitive for jobs. Medical costs changes can move from headwinds to American prosperity to tailwinds.
Thanks for reading,
Mike Roizen MD, FACP (AKA The Enforcer)