AMA Adopts New Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Policy

Chicago, IL — The American Medical Association (AMA) adopted a new policy at its recent Annual Meeting aiming to decrease the amount of sugar Americans consume via sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB). The policy is a result of consistent scientific verification that diseases such as coronary artery disease and type 2 diabetes are tied to  ingestion of SSBs.

“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., in a statement.

Recent studies by both JAMA and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), show that on average, Americans have a higher sugar intake than is suggested in order to maintain a healthy diet.

With the adoption of the new policy, steps can be taken towards decreasing sugar intake by utilizing new strategies, such as applying excise taxes on SSBs, seen recently in Philadelphia, and again in Seattle. Other tactics that can be applied include using plain packaging, and limiting the options and portion sizes of SSBs available. In addition, there is call for more transparency of SSBs including caloric information placing warning labels on products.

The policy also encourages reducing the overall availability of SSBs in places such as health care facilities, childcare settings and schools. Having healthier beverages options available at these locations and educating both children and adults about the health consequences of too much sugar is also a part of the policy.

This new AMA policy joins policy already in place to assist Americans in understanding the effects of too much sugar consumption and is backed by a proposal by the FDA which would require that added sugars appear on nutrition labels.

Responding to industry feedback, the FDA recently announced it will extend the compliance date.