What’s happening: A new rule proposed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would limit which foods can be labeled “healthy.” It would require such foods to contain a major food group and fit specific limits on saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars. Processed food companies are lobbying against the new rule and threatening the FDA with legal action.
The details: The rule limits cereals to 2.5 grams of added sugar per serving, which would exclude 95 percent of cereals on the market from being labeled as healthy. The largest cereal producers in the United States made a joint filing last month claiming the guidelines violate corporate free speech rights. The filing also highlights the benefits of sugar and argues that cereal is “one of the most affordable, nutrient-dense breakfast choices a person … can make.”
Corporate pushback: The processed food industry consistently pushes against nutritional criticisms and government attempts to regulate the food market. For example, Coca-Cola funded scientists trying to shift the blame for obesity away from unhealthy diets. It was also recently revealed that the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, which lobbies Congress on food guidelines, received millions in donations from junk food companies.
Implications for obesity: Research has found that a diet high in added sugars was the driving factor for rising childhood obesity. Yet U.S. experts are recommending new weight loss drugs for childhood obesity and pointing to geneticsas the leading cause of obesity. Without a push for healthy diets and nutrition, obesity rates in the U.S. may continue to rise.