Researchers from institutions in Massachusetts and New York City have teamed up and created a model to display the positive effects of reducing sugar in various American food products. The model displays the plan’s influence on health, economic, and equity statistics. The project was set in motion after the U.S. National Salt and Sugar Reduction Initiative (NSSRI) released targets for sugar reduction in 15 categories in 2018. As of February, the NSSRI finalized the policy, making it a goal that company’s begin to gradually lower the sugar content of their products.
While the policy being solidified does bring attention to the issue, it cannot be regulated or enforced without government support. Without said support, there would be no way to monitor companies’ progress and keep record that they are meeting projected goals. The researchers conducted the study in hopes that it would urge more individuals to support and advocate for the implementation of sugar-reduction regulations. Siyi Shangguan, an attending physician at Massachusetts General Hospital says, “Reducing the sugar content of commercially prepared foods and beverages will have a larger impact on the health of Americans than other initiatives to cut sugar, such as imposing a sugar tax, labelling added sugar content, or banning sugary drinks in schools.” The study predicted that after 10 years of implementing the policy, the country would save 4.28 billion dollars in healthcare costs and when other social factors are taken into account, savings are projected to be as high as 160.88 billion dollars over the adult population’s lifetime.
Redesigning the sugar content of products has proven to reduce harmful ingredients besides sugar, such as trans fats and sodium. Yet, the U.S. remains behind other nations in implementing these kinds of policies. the UK, Norway, and Singapore are currently in the lead when it comes to initiating these efforts. If the U.S. did decide to act similarly, it would become the leader, as the policy crafted by the NSSRI is the “most carefully designed and comprehensive, yet achievable, sugar-reformulation initiative in the world”, according to Shangguan. The consumption of excessively sugary foods directly leads to obesity and diseases like type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The policy proposed by the NSSRI only benefits the health and prosperity of the American population and therefore should be executed. Dariush Mozafarrian, the dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University concludes, “Our findings suggest it’s time to implement a national program with voluntary sugar reduction targets, which can generate major improvements in health, health disparities, and healthcare spending in less than a decade.”