Sugar Shock


The nutrition facts label on food packages will be changing soon, and information that you need to keep your smile healthy should be easier to spot and understand.

Information about added sugars will be the focus of the revised labels. And those seemingly arbitrary servings sizes will be standardized.  Calorie counts will also be really hard to miss.

This marks the first major update to the nutrition facts labels since their introduction in 1994.The labeling changes were first proposed two years ago by the Food and Drug Administration.

Added Sugars

The new labels will include information about added sugars. This data can be used to determine how much of the sugar in a food item is naturally present, and how much was put into the food or drink by the manufacturer.

The labels also include a new “percent daily value” for sugars, to let people know how much of their recommended daily sugar intake a food item contains. Current national nutrition guidelines suggest that we partake in no more than 10 percent of calories from added sugar, a limit of around 200 calories or 50 grams per food item. Now it’s easy to know that a 20-ounce bottle of Coca-Cola, for example, has 65 grams of sugar, or 130 percent of the recommended daily value.

The Sugar Association, an organization founded by members of the U.S. sugar industry, is (unsurprisingly) not happy about the new labels.

“(We are) disappointed by the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) ruling to require an ‘added sugars’ declaration and daily reference value (DRV) on the Nutrition Facts Label (NFL),” the Sugar Association said in a statement. “The extraordinary contradictions and irregularities, as well as the lack of scientific justification in this rulemaking process are unprecedented for the FDA.”

The Grocery Manufacturers Association, a trade organization representing many large food and beverage companies, called the update “timely” in their statement. The Association had argued that the added sugar information would confuse consumers, and also noted that health issues caused by sugar are not reliant on whether sugar is naturally present or added to foods.

Serving Sizes

The new labels also aim to make serving size information easier to figure out. Food labels can no longer boast of having a seemingly reasonable amount of calories per insanely small serving size.

The new guidelines call for calories to be listed by actual consumption and not ideal consumption. For example, if you buy a bottled smoothie, the calorie count shown on the new labels will be for the entire bottle as opposed to the older method/marketing trick of dividing a single – often small – container into multiple servings.

About a fifth of all packaged foods require revised calculations to meet the new guidelines. Most food companies have until July 2018 to comply. Smaller companies have an extra year.

A serving size of ice cream will now be based on average consumption of 2/3 of a cup, where it had been a half-cup. Products whose packaging contains between one and two servings, such as a 20-ounce soda or a 15-ounce soup can, will be labeled as a single serving.

Packages that contain larger serving sizes, such as a pint of ice cream, will have two calorie amounts listed on their labels. One will show the count for a single serving information; the other will display the calories in the entire container.

Calorie Counts

Another obvious change is the shift away from concern about fat grams, and a renewed focus on calories. Calorie count information on the new labels is printed in a font size that is roughly three times the size of all other nutrition data listed.

Some experts argue that focusing on calories, or added sugars, or anything but encouraging Americans to a balanced, nutritious diet centered on fresh, unprocessed food is actually counterproductive to improving health and decreasing obesity. And they worry that the new, larger serving-sizes will encourage people to think that drinking an entire bottle of soda is OK.

“Ultimately, the best advice is to prioritize foods that don’t come with nutrition labels,” said James Hamblin, MD, in his article for the Atlantic.

Cutting back on sugar, whether natural or added, will certainly improve the health of your teeth and gums. Sugars fuel the bacteria that live in your mouth, which convert carbohydrates from sugar into acids that can result in tooth decay.

Regular dental care is also essential to oral health. If you’ve been putting off seeing a dentist due to cost, you’ll be happy to know that their affordable alternative to paying out of pocket and pricey insurance: a dental savings plan from :DentalPlans.

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