Debate Club

Sugars Have a Reasonable Place in Healthful Diets

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Sugars—plural to include all forms of caloric sweeteners--are not poison. Although they have calories but no nutrients, and are considered "empty," they do make foods taste good. Sugars have a reasonable place in healthful diets…in moderation, of course. I am in favor of two kinds of regulation: requiring food manufacturers (1) to disclose added sugars on nutrition facts panels and (2) to group all kinds of sugars under one designation--sugars. Food advocacy groups have tried for years to get the FDA to require labeling of added sugars. At the moment, food labels list total carbohydrates, and some list grams of sugars. But these do not distinguish the naturally occurring sugars in foods that are accompanied by vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients from refined sugars added in processing. For example, the sugar content of a cereal like Raisin Bran is much higher than that of other sweetened cereals because raisins naturally contain sugars. But raisins also provide nutrients; their calories are anything but empty. In ingredient lists, manufacturers are permitted to mention as separate entities glucose, fructose, high fructose corn syrup, fruit concentrate, and many other kinds of sugars. Listing them separately means that they appear further down on ingredient lists. Grouping them together would indicate to the public that the product contains sugar(s) as the first ingredient.

Marion Nestle

About Marion Nestle Co-author of 'Why Calories Count: From Science to Politics'

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