Harvard Health Letter

Why will the new food labels highlight added sugars?

Ask the doctor

Q. The new Nutrition Facts label is supposed to highlight "added sugars" in foods. Can you explain what they are and why they're important?

A. Manufacturers add sugar to many types of food, not only candy and soda, but even salad dressings, crackers, yogurt, bread, spaghetti sauce, and cereals. These sugars aren't distinguished on food labels; only total sugar content is listed, including sugars naturally present in ingredients. However, when the new labels start appearing (by July 2018), they will clearly list "added sugars" in a serving: the amount (in grams) and the percentage of recommended daily calories. Until then, you need to look for clues on the list of ingredients-entries like dextrose, sucrose, fructose, maltose, lactose, or syrups such as corn syrup. Too much sugar promotes unhealthy weight gain and may also increase a person's risk of heart disease and diabetes. Men should aim for less than 37.5 grams and women for less than 25 grams of added sugars each day.

— Anthony Komaroff, M.D.
Editor in Chief, Harvard Health Letter

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