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The Bittersweet Truth About Sugar Labeling Regulations

Jennifer L. Pomeranz, JD, MPH


The truth about sports drinks.


Sugar occurs naturally in fruit, vegetables, and milk, but the majority of sugar in the US diet is added to processed food and beverages (collectively food) during preparation, manufacture, processing, or packaging and is derived from cane, beet, and corn.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced its plan to develop a uniform front-of package system, and shortly thereafter the food industry announced the same.

Americans aged 6 to 54 years consume 83.6 to 92.3 grams of added sugar daily, and added sugarrepresents approximately 17.0% of total energy intake for those aged 6 to 17 years and 16.3% for those aged 18 to 34 years.


The major source of added sugar in the American diet is derived from commercially sweetened products, including calorically sweetened beverages, grain-based desserts, dairy desserts, syrups, and candy as well as ready-to-eat cereals for children. For all age groups, sweetened beverages (regular soda and energy, sports, and fruit drinks) are consistently the largest contributor of added sugar to the diet.

In its 2009 Scientific Statement, the American Heart Association reviewed the evidence and concluded that weight gain over the past 30 years in the United States “must be related in part to increased intake of added sugars,”which also “appears to be associated with increased triglyceride levels, a known risk factor for coronary heart disease.”

The first, on adults, found high added sugar intake was positively correlated with weight gain, lower high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, higher triglycerides, and higher ratios of triglycerides to high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. The most recent study found that high added sugar intake in adolescents was positively associated with increased dyslipidemia (lower high-density lipoprotein, higher low-density lipoprotein, and higher triglycerides) for all adolescents and increased insulin resistance among overweight adolescents, a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Studies do confirm that sweetened dairy and fortified cereals have a positive impact on diet; however, sweetened beverages, sweets, and sweetened grains have been found to have a negative impact.


The consumption of sweetened beverages in particular is associated with dental caries, weight gain, overweight, obesity, and an independent risk factor for diabetes and heart disease.

However, science is emerging that may refute this statement and support the position that not all added sugar is metabolized the same: added fructose has been singled out as a possible culprit in the obesity epidemic, and increased consumption is associated with metabolic changes.


The American Heart Association has recommended limiting daily intake of added sugar to approximately 4.5% to 6.5% of total calories, which for most women equals 100 calories a day and for most men, 150 calories a day.

The World Health Organization recommends that less than 10% of total calories be consumed as added sugar. Scientists have confirmed that techniques exist to measure and differentiate among the carbon isotope profile of corn-, beet-, and cane-sweetened food. This is based on the fact that different types of plant photosynthesis lead to different sugar isotopes. Corn and sugar cane have a C4 carbon isotope signature, whereas beets, maple, fruit, and vegetables have a C3 signature. This has enabled scientists to determine which type of sugar was added to foods such as sweetened  beverages, candy, and ready-to-eat cereals.

Two seemingly identical baby food products are illustrative: in a peach yogurt, 77% of the 6.6 grams of sugar is added, whereas only 7% of the 3.9 grams of sugar in the banana yogurt is added.  Fruit Oils/animal fats (e.g., butter, coconut oil, lard, tallow, olive oil, macadamia oil, avocado oil) All herbs and spices.

You should strive to take in at least 1 gram of quality protein per pound of lean body weight. So remember, eating refined carbs like bread, pasta, bagels, cakes, cookies and other starch-based carbs like rice, potatoes, oatmeal, beans, etc. increases blood sugar higher than normal which as we’ve discussed, raises insulin and this tells your body to store fat and to keep it locked in the fat cells.

Replacing these foods with high quality fatty proteins like lamb, salmon, beef, eggs, chicken, turkey, pork, etc., and leafy greens and other vegetables tells your body to release fat from your fat cells to be used as fuel and build muscle, bone and other vital tissues. Eating in this manner not only promotes speedy fat loss, but will improve your overall health to a marked degree. Your doctor will be pleased indeed.

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