Attack On Sugars, Caffeine Has Beverage Makers Upset With Dietary Committee

For the first time in history, the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans Advisory Committee is considering putting limitations on added sugars, noting its continued problem for younger people especially. But the American Beverage Association is not so keen on some of the recommended...

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For the first time in history, the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans Advisory Committee is considering putting limitations on added sugars, noting its continued problem for younger people especially.

But the American Beverage Association is not so keen on some of the recommended restrictions. The ABA, which represents a broad spectrum of companies that manufacture and distribute non-alcoholic beverages in the U.S., says the Committee went beyond its authority to develop dietary recommendations based on scientific evidence by advocating for public policies such as taxes and restrictions on foods and beverages.

In a release, ABA states that the Committee does not have the authority, nor the evidence or expertise, to make such claims.

Moderation and balance are key

While the beverage makers agree that diet and exercise is an important factor in achieving a healthy lifestyle, they said the Committee did not consider the body of science. Numerous studies have shown that restricting one food or an entire food group — even sugar and sugar-sweetened beverages — is not the best approach in maintaining a healthy weight and calorie balance, ABA said in the release.

Instead, the beverage makers believe focusing on an overall approach of reducing calories from all food sources would provide a more comprehensive and long-term solution.

The Association said the advisory board overstepped its boundaries by going beyond its scope in examining the safety of low- and no-calorie sweeteners and caffeine, ingredients that have been repeatedly deemed safe by the FDA for decades.

ABA said the body of science clearly shows that these ingredients can be an effective tool in weight loss, weight management and helping to control health conditions like diabetes and hypertension.

The beverage association concluded its statement with:

Our industry strongly believes that the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans should be based on the weight of scientific evidence while also providing real world guidance that is achievable for the majority of Americans. In reviewing the Committee's recommendations, we encourage the Agencies to seek ways to help Americans achieve balance and moderation in their diet - while also promoting the importance of physical activity, rather than advocating for restricting only specific items and eliminating choice.

The ABA also highlighted some key points on sugars, sweeteners and caffeine. Of the more notable:

  • This Committee placed a laser-like focus on "added" sugars, suggesting that they are somehow different from those that are naturally occurring.  As acknowledged by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in its preamble to proposed rulemaking on changes to the Nutrition Facts Panel, there is no scientific basis for this assertion and no way of analytically distinguishing between "added" and naturally occurring sugars.
  • Many major health organizations have affirmed the benefits of low- and no-calorie sweeteners in balancing consumers' carbohydrate and energy intake, including the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association. 
  • The appropriate body to look at ingredient safety – including that of caffeine – is the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Evaluating the safety of caffeine was not only outside of the Committee's scope of work, but in doing so, they did not have appropriate experts to conduct and appropriate assessment, leading to misinterpretation of the data and conclusions. 

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