Why Sugar Is Added to Food: Food Science 101

Kara R. Goldfein, Joanne L Slavin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


Avoiding too much sugar is an accepted dietary guidance throughout the world. The U.S. Nutrition Facts panel includes information on total sugars in foods. A focus on added sugars is linked to the concept of discretionary calories and decreasing consumption of added sugars or free sugars as a means to assist a consumer to identify foods that are nutrient-dense. On March 14, 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposed that including "added sugars" declaration on the Nutrition Facts panel would be another tool to help consumers reduce excessive discretionary calorie intake from added sugars. Through deductive reasoning, labeling added sugars is one tactic to potentially curb the obesity epidemic in the United States. This review discusses the functions of sugar in food and shows that the methods used to replace added sugars in foods can result in no reduction in calorie content or improvement in nutrient density. Without clear benefit to the consumer for added sugars labeling, this review highlights the complex business obstacles, costs, and consumer confusion resulting from the proposed rule.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)644-656
Number of pages13
JournalComprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Institute of Food Technologists.


  • Food labeling
  • Nutrition facts
  • Public health
  • Sucrose
  • Sugars


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