Why Adding “Added Sugars” to Food Labels May Be Tricky

nutrition_labelSoon the packaged foods and beverages you buy will feature a revised Nutrition Facts Panel (NFP) intended to provide clearer information about things like ingredients, daily values, and serving sizes. The goal is to help Americans make healthier choices about what they eat, but one of the proposed changes—if implemented—may have the opposite effect.

The International Food Information Council (IFIC) recently conducted an online survey of more than 1,000 adults to determine whether or not including a line for “Added Sugars” on the new NFP would be beneficial, but researchers believe the distinction may cause more confusion than clarification. That’s because many consumers are still unclear about what added sugars really are.

The term added sugars refers to the sugar added to processed foods and beverages as they are being made. This includes natural sugars (such as honey and fruit sugar) as well as processed sugars such as high-fructose corn syrup. Added sugars have no nutritional value and have been linked to health risks such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

Even with the distinction, survey results indicated that consumers—even those who said they typically read NFPs—still had a hard time accurately identifying how much sugar was in each product. Many were also unsure about whether or not the sugars in an “Added Sugars” line were included in the total amount of sugar for a product (currently listed as just “Sugars”).

As we await the impending label changes, this new survey spotlights the need to improve public education about added sugars and the dangers of a high-sugar diet. “Consumer understanding of added sugars on the Nutrition Facts Panel is limited,” said study co-author Marianne Smith Edge, who believes better education is critical to help people make informed choices about their diet and health.

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Guys, When Was Your Last Checkup?

doctorA healthy mind and body are two things we should never take for granted. Regular checkups and health screenings can go a long way toward safeguarding health and reducing the risk of disease and early death for both men and women, but the truth is that men are far less likely to visit the doctor on a regular basis. In fact, only 54% of men remember the last time they saw their physician, according to a new survey by Orlando Health.

This month as we focus on men’s health, consider scheduling a physical exam (or reminding your dad, husband, or son to do the same) to assess your overall health and discuss any issues or concerns you may have—and don’t be surprised if your doc orders one or more of the following tests, which are typically recommended for guys every year or few years starting in early adulthood:

  • Blood Pressure: High blood pressure (or hypertension) affects nearly one-third of American adults and is a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Because it is “largely a symptomless condition” according to the American Heart Association, regular screenings are important for early detection.
  • Blood Tests & Urinalysis: Blood and urine tests are used to screen for various illnesses and diseases—including diabetes, impaired kidney function, or thyroid issues—before symptoms can occur.
  • EKG: An electrocardiogram records the heart’s electrical activity and looks for any abnormalities. This test is important because heart disease is the leading cause of death among men in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Rectal Exam: Your doctor may order a rectal exam to screen for hemorrhoids or lower rectal problems as well as colon and/or prostate cancer.
  • PSA Blood Test: Prostate Specific Antigen (or PSA) is produced by the prostate, and levels are higher when there is an abnormality such as an infection or cancer.
  • Testosterone Screening: Symptoms of low testosterone include a decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction, fatigue, and changes in mood. This screening typically involves a brief analysis to determine symptoms, followed by a simple blood test.

Visit www.menshealthnetwork.org for a more comprehensive list of which tests are important, how often you should get them, and at what age they are recommended.

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