Labeling the sugar content of soda could save $31 billion in health care costs, said new research from Tufts University and the University of Liverpool.
In 2016, the Food and Drug Administration mandated that companies include in food labels the amount of sugar in sweetened beverages. The rule, which has been delayed until 2020, is intended to curb new cases of Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other chronic conditions tied to the consumption of an unhealthy amount of sugar.
“Of all sources of added sugar in the U.S. diet, (sugar-sweetened beverages) are the largest contributor and most consistently linked to cardiometabolic risk,” the authors wrote in the study published online in the American Medical Association journal Circulation.
Through a predictive model for 2018 to 2037, researchers found that mandatory labeling could prevent 354,400 cases of cardiovascular disease and 599,300 cases of Type 2 diabetes, resulting in health care cost savings of $31 billion.
Researchers found an even greater health and financial impact if companies reformulated their drinks to have less added sugar in addition to including labeling sugar content: 708,800 cardiovascular disease cases and 1.2 million Type 2 diabetes cases avoided, with a health costs savings of more than $57 billion over the 20-year study period.
“Declaring added sugar content on the Nutrition Facts label, together with the percentage of Daily Value to help consumers contextualize such information, is a key policy opportunity to target not only (sugar-sweetened beverages), but all added sugar from all packaged products,” they wrote.