The New York City Health Department just announced an initiative to reduce sugar in packaged foods and drinks with the hope that less sugar will stop obesity rates from escalating. The initiative, spearheaded by acting commissioner Dr. Oxiris Bardot, is long overdue, as obesity rates have been rising for decades.
Dr. Bardot wants food companies to reduce sugar by 20 percent in packaged foods, including desserts, ice cream, candies, yogurt, cereals and condiments, and by 40 percent in drinks such as sodas, sports and fruit drinks, and sweetened milk, all by the year 2025. She declares:
The current health status of our country just demands that. Part of this is really starting the conversation and creating consumer demand, creating more momentum.
Today, Americans are consuming 17 teaspoons of sugar each day, which is 11 more than what the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends as safe. 68% of packaged foods and drinks in the US contain added sugar, which makes it more difficult for consumers to reduce sugar consumption.
This New York City-led sugar reduction initiative will come into force in 2019. Although company participation is voluntary, public health officials believe that putting the initiative out there will push consumer demand for low-sugar items, forcing companies to participate and reduce the sugar in their products.