Health Concerns

FDA Proposes Cigarettelike Warning Labels for Sugar

Hard numbers are coming for that sweet tooth.
Hard numbers are coming for that sweet tooth. Photo: mattjeacock/Getty Images

Even Americans not named Michael Bloomberg understand that there’s too much sugar in, like, everything they drink. So the FDA has finally proposed a simple tweak to food labels that has Big Soda in an uproar because it would make the crazy-high amount of added sugar in their products even more abundantly clear.

Unlike fat, cholesterol, or sodium, sugar snuck its way onto the Nutrition Facts label sort of scot-free — there’s no Daily Value listed. The FDA would like to fix that by sticking a number next to “Sugars” based on sugar intake, equaling 10 percent of a day’s total calories. Or in real-world terms: Assuming you eat a 2,000-calorie diet, that 20-ounce bottle of Coke with 65 grams of sugar (240 calories’ worth) would deliver a whopping 120 percent of your day’s sugar. One and done.

Knowing full well that this would be a pretty rude awakening, the American Beverage Association has submitted a 17-page-long complaint. Studies show 13 percent of adults’ calories already come from sugar; for kids, it’s 16 percent — and most of it from soda. But what alarms Big Soda the most is the thought that its products might have to become (shudder) healthier. The industry smartly catches a whiff of a semi-activist bent in the FDA’s proposal, which notes: “The label may encourage manufacturers to reformulate existing products and offer new products with a healthier nutrition profile.”


FDA Proposes Cigarettelike Warning Labels for Sugar