The Sugar Association, in written comments submitted today, urged the Food and Drug Administration to deny a citizens petition requesting that nutrition labels on foods be revised to declare added sugars separately from naturally occurring sugars.

Science Has Not Changed

“These same issues were raised by interested parties in 1993 and FDA rejected the changes sought,” said Richard O. Keelor, Ph.D., President and CEO of The Sugar Association. “Since the scientific evidence on this subject has not changed in the last seven years, we urge FDA to deny this request once again.”

In written comments, The Sugar Association cited the following two statements made by FDA and the conclusion of their 1993 review:

  • “There is no scientific evidence that the body makes any physiological distinction between added sugars molecules and those naturally occurring in a food.”
  • “The Agency also concluded that because laboratory analysis yields only a value for total sugars, special labeling of added sugars would be impracticable and unenforceable.”

Added Sugars Do Not Cause Chronic Disease or Obesity

The Sugar Association also cited two major international studies declaring that added sugars do not cause chronic diseases, including obesity. The first, a 1997 report by the World Health Organization (WHO) titled “Obesity: Preventing and Managing the Global Epidemic,” clearly states that fat, not sugar, is the prime culprit in the epidemic of obesity. The report also focuses on the vital role of physical activity in maintaining a balance between energy ingested and energy expended.

The second study, “Carbohydrates and Human Nutrition,” produced jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and WHO, documents a comprehensive analysis of the peer-reviewed body of science on carbohydrates and health accumulated over a 25 year period. This report exonerated sugars from a causal role in any chronic lifestyle disease.

Added Sugars Do Not Adversely Affect Diet Quality

The Sugar Association cited a large and consistent body of peer-reviewed science concluding consumption of sugars does not adversely affect diet quality. Beginning in 1986, FDA concluded that current levels of sugars consumption are not related to micronutrient deficiencies. Recent research confirms the percentage of sugars in the diet do not accurately predict micronutrient intake. “While new hypotheses have been publicized recently, the preponderance of scientific studies continue to show there is no validated evidence that the intake of added sugars reduces the nutrient adequacy of the American diet,” continued Keelor.

Sound Science Must Proceed Policy To Preserve Credibility

“Congress has stipulated that nutrition policy in this country must be based on scientific evidence,” said Keelor. “Because there is no scientific evidence of any pressing public health issue associated with consumption of sugars and no consumer education need served by the actions requested by this petition, we urge no further action be taken. On the other hand, changing the Nutrition Facts panel, as contemplated by the petition, would unnecessarily increase consumer confusion and put FDA in the uncomfortable position of overseeing unenforceable regulations. Both situations would seriously damage consumer confidence in the credibility of FDA and its regulatory process.”

The Sugar Association is a trade organization representing the nation’s sugar cane growers and refiners and sugar beet growers and processors whose primary mission is to inform and educate the consuming public about the role of sugar (sucrose) in nutrition and health.