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FDA Proposes Nutrition Fact Labels That Include Percent Daily Value for Added Sugars

Published: 8/9/15
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Twitter Summary: FDA proposal includes percent daily value for added sugars on nutrition fact labels, supplementing last year’s proposed updates

The FDA recently proposed including a percent daily value (%DV) for added sugars on the nutrition facts labels of packaged foods. The FDA’s proposal also plans to add the following statement to the bottom of these labels in order to help consumers better understand what %DV means: “The percent daily value (%DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet.”

Nutrition facts labels already require percent daily value to be included for total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrate, dietary fiber, calcium, and iron. Although the FDA proposed adding a new section, “added sugars,” to nutrition facts labels last year, the proposal did not include percent daily value (see a picture of the proposed label here). That %DV number matters a lot. The %DV is designed to put into context the number of grams a serving of the food provides for that nutrient based on the consumption of 2000 calories/day: the average number of calories some adult Americans need – i.e., a food with 100% DV of added sugar clearly has a lot of sugar, sending a much more impactful message than simply the number of grams alone.

Currently 16% of the average American’s total calories come from added sugars from products like soda, energy drinks, grain-based foods, desserts, and sweetened fruit drinks. The percent daily value for added sugars will be set at 10% of total daily calorie intake. This should help on the motivational front – we hope!

This update to nutrition facts labels is a very positive step, particularly for people with diabetes, as it will make it easier to get clear and understandable nutrition information from packaged foods. Indeed, as diaTribe Advisory Board Member, dietitian, and certified diabetes educator Hope Warshaw stated, she was “frankly surprised, yet delighted, to see FDA push the added sugars labeling” and complimented the FDA as “they’re making a tremendous effort to use the existing scientific evidence available to drive decisions about what’s best for the health of the public.” She was also enthusiastic about simplifying and including the percent daily value explanation as she hopes “this will help consumers understand how to interpret this information better.”

The proposal will be open to public comment for 75 days here, and we encourage anyone interested to take action by voicing an opinion on the proposal. –CA

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