CHICAGO — With consistent evidence showing a link between consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) and an increase in type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease, the American Medical Association (AMA) today adopted policy during its Annual Meeting, as part of a comprehensive report on SSBs, aimed at reducing the amount of sugar Americans consume.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), on average, Americans get 16 percent of their total calories from added sugars that provide no nutrient value and are often referred to as “empty calories.” A recent JAMA study also found that a majority of U.S. adults consume more added sugar than recommended for a healthy diet.
“Excessive sugar consumption has been linked to some of the nation’s most debilitating diseases, and limiting the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages will go a long way toward helping people prevent the onset of these diseases, improve health outcomes, and rein in health costs associated with chronic diseases,” said AMA Board Member William E. Kobler, M.D.
The new policy adopted today supports evidence-based strategies to reduce the consumption of sugar sweetened beverages, including excise taxes on SSBs, removing options to purchase SSBs in primary and secondary schools, the use of warning labels to inform consumers about the health consequences of SSB consumption, and the use of plain packaging.
The policy also urges continued research into other strategies that may be effective in limiting SSB consumption, such as controlling portion sizes, limiting options to purchase or access SSBs in early childcare settings, workplaces, and public venues, restrictions on marketing SSBs to children, and changes to the agricultural subsidies system.
New AMA policy also encourages hospitals and medical facilities to offer healthier beverages, such as water, unflavored milk, coffee, and unsweetened tea, for purchase in place of SSBs. Additionally, the policy calls for these facilities to make calorie counts visible next to the price of beverages sold in their vending machines.
Under the policy, physicians are also encouraged to counsel their patients about the health consequences of SSB consumption and importance of replacing SSBs with healthier beverage choices. The new policy also calls for working with school districts to promote healthy beverage choices for students.
The AMA has existing policy to ensure Americans better understand the actual amount of sugar contained in the foods they consume, including policy in support of the FDA’s proposal to include added sugars on nutrition labels.
Related policy adopted today also calls on U.S. hospitals to make a variety of healthful food and beverage options available to improve the health of patients, staff and visitors.
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About the American Medical Association
The American Medical Association is the premier national organization providing timely, essential resources to empower physicians, residents and medical students to succeed at every phase of their medical lives. Physicians have entrusted the AMA to advance the art and science of medicine and the betterment of public health on behalf of patients for more than 170 years.