Are restrictive guidelines for added sugars science based?

Jennifer Erickson, Joanne L Slavin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Added sugar regulations and recommendations have been proposed by policy makers around the world. With no universal definition, limited access to added sugar values in food products and no analytical difference from intrinsic sugars, added sugar recommendations present a unique challenge. Average added sugar intake by American adults is approximately 13 % of total energy intake, and recommendations have been made as low 5 % of total energy intake. In addition to public health recommendations, the Food and Drug Administration has proposed the inclusion of added sugar data to the Nutrition and Supplemental Facts Panel. The adoption of such regulations would have implications for both consumers as well as the food industry. There are certainly advantages to including added sugar data to the Nutrition Facts Panel; however, consumer research does not consistently show the addition of this information to improve consumer knowledge. With excess calorie consumption resulting in weight gain and increased risk of obesity and obesity related co-morbidities, added sugar consumption should be minimized. However, there is currently no evidence stating that added sugar is more harmful than excess calories from any other food source. The addition of restrictive added sugar recommendations may not be the most effective intervention in the treatment and prevention of obesity and other health concerns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number114
JournalNutrition Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 12 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Jennifer Erickson, is a PhD student in Nutrition at the University of Minnesota working with Dr. Joanne Slavin. Joanne Slavin is a professor in the Department of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Minnesota. In the past 5 years, she has given 150 scientific presentations in 13 countries. Many of these meetings received sponsorship from companies and associations with an interest in carbohydrates and nutritive sweeteners. Her research group works mostly on satiety and gut health outcomes with dietary exposures including dietary fiber and protein. Her research funding for the past 5 years has included grants from General Mills, Inc., Tate and Lyle, Nestle Health Sciences, Kellogg Company, USA Rice, USA Pears, Minnesota Beef Council, Minnesota Cultivated Wild Rice Council, Barilla Company, USDA, American Egg Board, American Pulse Association, MNDrive Global Food Ventures, International Life Science Institute (ILSI), and the Mushroom Council. She serves on the scientific advisory board for Tate and Lyle, Kerry Ingredients, Atkins Nutritionals, Midwest Dairy Association and the Alliance for Potato Research and Education (APRE). She holds a 1/3 interest in the Slavin Sisters Farm LLC, a 119 acre farm in Walworth, WI.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Erickson and Slavin.


  • Added sugar
  • Dietary Guidelines
  • Free sugar
  • Nutrition facts labels
  • Sugar recommendations


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