Health Department announces initiative to reduce sugar in food

NEW YORK — The Health Department announced Friday an initiative to reduce sugar in packaged foods and lowering salt in food supply.

The National Salt and Sugar Reduction Initiative (NSSRI) is a partnership of nearly 100 local, city and state health departments, associations and organizations across the country.

The NSSRI hopes to reduce the amount of sugar in packaged food 20 percent by 2025.

The initiative is calling for the amount of sugar in 13 different food and beverage categories to be lowered.

Categories include sweetened milk and milk substitutes, breakfast pastries, cakes, cookies, dry mixes, dairy-based and frozen desserts, sweet candies, chocolate candies, breakfast cereals, condiments, dessert syrups and toppings, yogurt, and sugary drinks.

Currently, about 68 percent of packaged foods and beverages purchased in the United States contain added sugar.

Added sugar intake is associated with risk of excess weight, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, stroke and heart disease.

“Excessive sugar consumption is a major factor in the obesity, diabetes and heart disease epidemics. This is a public health crisis, like smoking,” said Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried, Chair of the Assembly Health Committee.

“Working with manufacturers of prepared foods and beverages to lower sugar levels in their products is a sensible proactive step to improve public health.”

“Salt and sugar are silent killers,” said Assistant Speaker Felix W. Ortiz. “These food additives must be limited by the food industry and by consumers alike. I’ve been fighting against childhood and adult obesity for many years and welcome the city’s effort to create voluntary targets to reduce the amount of sugar and salt in food and beverage products. You can still enjoy food and drink without the unnecessary addition of health threatening ingredients.”

The average American consumes about 17 teaspoons of added sugars each day, which is above the recommended 12-teaspoon limit, according to the Health Department.