Rhode Islanders who want to follow the federal government’s new dietary guidelines may find it a challenge, especially when it comes to sugar. Here’s why.
The guidelines recommend you limit your daily intake of added sugar – ingredients like corn syrup or fructose, not normally found in fresh food – to 10 percent.
That’s because too much added sugar – meaning what you find in sugary soda, nonfat fruit yogurt (believe it or not!), some breads and pastries, etc. – can lead to major health problems. Number one on that list: type 2 diabetes.
By the way, these dietary guidelines are updated every five years, so these are good for 2015 - 2020. They inform what goes into school lunches and other government food programs, and much more.
But complying with these new guidelines requires either knowing exactly how much added sugar is in a particular item, or avoiding processed foods altogether. Food labels right now list the number of grams of added sugar. But they don’t list what percent those grams account for in terms of your daily calorie intake. Not so for cholesterol, fiber, or sodium. Labels require not only the amount of these ingredients in a food but also how much that counts toward your recommend daily calorie intake.
The Food and Drug Administration tells Rhode Island Public Radio that it will be taking the new dietary guidelines into account when it reviews food label requirements this year.
What to do in the meantime? Here’s a little guidance from the American Heart Association, which worries about sugar intake because too much can lead to diabetes. No more than 30 grams, or 6 teaspoons a day of added sugars for women; for men, no more than 9 teaspoons, or 45 grams, of added sugars a day.