New national initiative targets sugar reduction in foods

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Jim Dolan has the details from Long Island City. (Shutterstock.com)

A new national effort is underway to reduce sugar in packaged foods by 20 percent by 2025.

The National Salt and Sugar Reduction Initiative is a partnership of nearly 100 local, city and state health departments, associations, and health organizations across the country.

It advocates for lowering the amount of sugar in 13 different food and beverage categories, including:
--Sweetened milk and milk substitutes
--Breakfast pastries
--Cakes
--Cookies
--Dry mixes
--Dairy-based and frozen desserts

--Sweet candies
--Chocolate candies
--Breakfast cereals
--Condiments
--Dessert syrups and toppings
--Yogurt
--Sugary drinks.

Targets were set for sugar reduction in each category, and recommendations were released to the food and beverage industry with a request for comment.

Health experts say that currently, 68 percent of packaged foods and beverages purchased in the U.S. contain added sugar, making it difficult for individuals to reduce their sugar consumption.

Intake of added sugars is associated with increased risk of excess weight, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, stroke, heart disease, and cavities.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends limiting consumption of added sugars to 10 percent or less of daily caloric intake, the equivalent of about 12 teaspoons (approximately 200 calories) of added sugars for a 2,000 calorie diet, but the average American consumes about 17 teaspoons (approximately 270 calories) of added sugars each day.

The National Salt and Sugar Reduction Initiative started first with a focus on sodium in 2009. Then called the National Salt Reduction Initiative, nearly 30 food companies committed to work towards established sodium targets, including some of the nation's largest manufacturers.

Between 2009 and 2015, there was a 6.8 percent reduction in sodium levels among top selling processed foods, demonstrating that meaningful reformulation of food products is achievable within a short time period.

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