Reduced sugar consumption recommendations from an influential government advisory panel are welcome news — if we can make them stick (particularly not knowing if our perma-election status will have any impact on the process). Obesity continues to increase in the U.S., contributing to a range of deadly health risks including diabetes, a major driver in COVID complications. Excessive dietary sugar is one of the main contributors to obesity. Whatever we are doing now is not working and it’s time to right the ship.
The proposed changes to the U.S. government’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans call for a 40 percent reduction in sugar intake — 6 percent of daily calories vs. 10 percent today for adults. To put it in context of a 2,000 calorie diet, 6% percent would equate to 120 calories or 30g of added sugar (roughly 7.25 teaspoons of sugar). This does not contemplate natural sugars in a piece of fruit or a glass of milk. Right now, the average American consumes more than double that amount: 17 teaspoons of sugar daily. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services will issue final guidelines by the end of the year, part of a regular five-year update cycle.
These guidelines are impactful as they can big drive changes in school lunch menus and other nutrition programs. We know that reducing the amount of junk food that kids eat can help them learn more and improve their emotional as well as physical health.
But the guidelines aren’t finalized yet. Federal officials are still studying the evidence and lobbying groups such as the American Beverage Association are already arguing against the changes. If they listen to the makers of soda, candy, snack foods and other sugar-heavy industries, we will lose an important weapon in the fight against obesity.
Consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies, like any industry, face pressure to deliver maximum profits to shareholders. But they are also waking up to the obligation of addressing our addiction to sugar and the powerful change agents they can become to make a difference. We are seeing this at Joywell Foods as we continue discussions with various CPG companies looking for viable solutions that address both taste and sugar elimination — the latter of which is made possible by our sweet fruit protein platform. And undoubtedly the new guidelines are also an important force for change that defines a bright line between what is acceptable and what is not. Let’s hope federal health officials resist the urge to prioritize the concerns of lobbyists before Americans’ health.