DALLAS — The added sugars labeling policy from the Food and Drug Administration could save $31 billion in health care costs over a 20-year period, according to a study that appeared online April 15 in Circulation, the American Heart Association’s journal. The listing of added sugars also could prevent 354,400 cases of cardiovascular disease and 599,300 cases of type 2 diabetes mellitus over the 20 years.
“The purpose of our study was to estimate the impact of the F.D.A.’s added sugars label on reducing sugar intake and preventing diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” said Renata Micha, Ph.D., of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Boston. “Our results indicate that timely implementation of the added sugars label could reduce consumption of foods and beverages with added sugars, which could then lead to an improvement in health and a reduction in health care spending.”
The F.D.A. will begin implementing the mandatory listing of added sugars on the Nutrition Facts Label of packaged foods and beverages on Jan. 1, 2020. The F.D.A. defines added sugars as those that either are added during the processing of foods or packaged as such.
The study in Circulation, which may be found here, went on to account for possible industry reformulation to reduce sugar content in response to the added sugars listing. The scenario of labeling plus reformulation over 20 years could lead to $57.6 billion in savings in health care costs, a prevention of 708,800 cases of cardiovascular disease and a reduction of 1.2 million cases of type 2 diabetes mellitus. To come up with their 20-year estimates, the researchers used dietary intake from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, disease data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, policy effects and diet-disease effects from meta-analyses, and policy and health-related costs from other sources.
The study involved researchers from the Dallas-based American Heart Association, Tufts University in Boston, the University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom, Imperial College London in the United Kingdom and the Medical University of Gdansk in Poland. The study was conducted as part of a FOOD-Price initiative at Tufts University funded by the National Institutes of Health.