BOSTON (April 15, 2019, 5:00 a.m. ET)—The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) mandatory added sugar labeling policy for packaged foods and beverages, set to take effect between 2020 and 2021, could be a cost-effective way to generate important health gains and cost-savings for both the healthcare system and society in the U.S., according to a new modeling study led by researchers from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University and the University of Liverpool. The analysis is the first to estimate the potential health and economic impacts of the new label.
In 2016, the FDA announced several mandatory changes to the Nutrition Facts label in order to provide consumers with enhanced nutritional information. Among the changes was adding the grams and percent Daily Value of added sugar content, which would help consumers limit calories from added sugar in accordance with the recommendations of the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
The study, published today in Circulation, estimates that the FDA’s added sugar label could prevent or postpone nearly 1 million cases of cardiometabolic disease, including heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes, over a 20-year period. When combined with possible industry reformulations to reduce added sugar content in packaged foods and beverages, the label could prevent or postpone nearly 3 million cases of cardiovascular disease and diabetes over the same time period. Cost-effectiveness of each scenario was evaluated from a healthcare perspective (accounting for policy costs and medical costs) and from a societal perspective (further accounting for informal care costs and lost productivity costs). Both scenarios were estimated to be cost-effective within five years and cost-saving within seven years.