Milk Chocolate M&M's

Disclosing Added Sugar: Candy vs Yogurt

If you’re looking for a clue to why the definition of “healthy eating” is such a tricky subject, just take a look at the fight about disclosing added sugar on nutrition labels. Yesterday, Mars — the makers of M&M’s — announced that they support FDA’s proposal for added sugar labeling. Meanwhile, the yogurt industry is dead set against it.

How can this be?

One might have expected folks who make wholesome, healthy yogurt to favor disclosure of things like added sugars. Wrong. The National Yogurt Association opposes disclosing added sugars because in “may be confusing” and “it may unintentionally drive consumers away.”

But you see, much of the yogurt sold in America has become a lot like candy. Popular fruit yogurt brands have just as much sugar as a bag of M&M’s. While consumers eat all the added sugar in a cup of yogurt, they comfort themselves by thinking “I’m eating healthy!”

Mars announced its broad support for proposals that target added sugars — not just the FDA labeling proposal, but also nutrition guidelines to limit added added sugar to 10% of total calories. Their Global Head of R&D, Dave Crean, said: “It just makes good sense.”

CSPI — a frequent food industry critic — welcomed this news, saying:

Mars is an important, if somewhat unlikely, ally in the fight to get junk food out of schools, and has one of the strongest policies when it comes to shielding kids from junk­ food marketing. It’s refreshing to see a company like Mars showing principled leadership on this question of added sugar labeling, and we hope other companies follow its lead.

How long will it take yogurt makers to figure out that turning their products into candy will destroy the foundation of their brands?

Click here to read more in Food Navigator USA.

Milk Chocolate M&M’s, public domain photograph by Evan-Amos / Wikimedia Commons

Subscribe by email to follow the accumulating evidence and observations that shape our view of health, obesity, and policy.