It’s no secret that the U.S. food supply is awash in added sugar. It’s not just in the usual suspects like cookies, candy, and soda, but also in sports drinks, energy drinks, smoothies, breakfast cereals, granola bars, muffins, yogurts, sorbets, sauces, and more.

Studies report a higher risk of weight gain, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and tooth decay in people who consume more drinks or foods high in added sugar. And those empty calories leave less room for the vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, whole grains, and other nutrient-rich foods that can keep us healthy.

So in April, Nutrition Action’s publisher (the Center for Science in the Public Interest) and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to set voluntary targets for added sugar.

Grocery store shelves filled with sugary cereal
Targets would spur the food industry to add less sugar to packaged foods.
K KStock -

Our petition urges the agency to:

Set targets. The FDA should set short-term (2½-year), mid-term (5-year), and long-term (10-year) targets for added sugar for food and drink categories that supply the most added sugar to the U.S. diet.

Create an online database. A public database of top-selling foods in those categories would make it easier for people to compare added-sugar levels.

Track progress. Public progress reports would pressure companies to meet targets.

Tackle restaurant foods. Foods eaten outside the home supply a third of our calories. The FDA needs to set targets for restaurant foods and require chains to disclose added sugar in menu items upon request.

The agency won’t have to start from scratch. Since 2018, the New York City Health Department’s National Salt and Sugar Reduction Initiative has worked to set targets for the 15 categories of foods that contribute the most sugar to our diets.

It’s time for the FDA to step up to the plate by helping all Americans eat more healthfully and not be deluged with sugar at every turn.

Wouldn’t that be sweet!