Last week, the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) published the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s (DGAC) final scientific report, which will inform the agency and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as they co-develop the 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

The 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommended that Americans consume less than 10% of energy from added sugars. The 2020 DGAC revisited this topic and concluded that a more appropriate target to help mitigate cardiovascular disease and obesity is to lower the number to 6% of energy from added sugars for the 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

The committee came to this conclusion through an examination of the relationship between added sugars consumption and the risk of cardiovascular disease. It also examined the impact of added sugars on achieving nutrient recommendations and considered how much added sugars could be accommodated in a healthy dietary pattern.

For Americans aged 1 and older, the average consumption of added sugars represents 13% of daily energy intake, meaning that most Americans consume diets that exceed current Dietary Guidelines recommendations. Nearly 70% of added sugars intake comes from five food categories: sweetened beverages, desserts and sweet snacks, coffee and tea (with their additions), candy and sugars, and breakfast cereals and bars.

Evidence suggests that adverse effects of added sugars, particularly from sugar-sweetened beverages, may contribute to unhealthy weight gain and obesity-related health outcomes. Reducing the amount of added sugars in the diet, either through changes in consumer behavior or in how food is produced and sold, is an achievable objective that could improve population health. After considering the scientific evidence for the potential health impacts of added sugars intake, along with findings from model-based estimations of energy available in the dietary pattern after meeting nutrient requirements, the DAGC suggests that less than 6% of energy from added sugars is more consistent with a dietary pattern that is nutritionally adequate while avoiding excess energy intake from added sugars.

In response to the report, the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) published the following statement: “Evidence from AICR’s Energy Balance and Body Fatness report shows that consuming sugar-sweetened drinks, which are high in added sugars, increases the risk of weight gain, overweight and obesity. Maintaining a healthy weight is one of AICR’s Cancer Prevention Recommendations, as excess body fat is linked to 12 different cancers. AICR supports the updated recommendation from the DGAC to further limit added sugar intake.”

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