The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced an update to its proposal to revise the iconic Nutrition Facts Panel (NFP). The proposal now includes a %DV for added sugars.

The FDA made public their consumer study on the declaration of added sugars. More than a year ago, IFIC Foundation also conducted consumer research testing consumer comprehension of added sugars labeling.

While designing and commissioning independent research, IFIC Foundation used FDA protocols to inform its survey, specifically, the nutrition profiles of labels and product types shown to consumers as templates to test consumer understanding of these labels. In addition to using identical labels, some of the key questions were also identical to those found in the FDA questionnaire. For example, the central point to the added sugars labeling discussion is assessing how labeling “Added Sugars” might affect the ability to correctly identify the total amount of sugars in a product.

“A key question to answer in our consumer research is whether or not an “Added Sugars” declaration on the NFP provides clear information that is well understood by consumers that would be used appropriately in efforts to make informed dietary choices,” said co-author Kris Sollid, RD, IFIC Director of Nutrients Communications. “The short (and sweet) answer…providing added sugars information significantly decreases the ability for consumers to accurately identify the total amount of sugars in a product.”

Here are the data: when asked to identify the total amount of sugars in a product, 92% were able to do so correctly when viewing the current label format where “Sugars” are listed and “Added Sugars” are not. When viewing labels with added sugars information in FDA’s proposed format, significantly fewer people got it right—55% were correct when viewing a label with “Sugars” and “Added Sugars” labeled.

Data from FDA’s study released today confirm these findings. They also found that respondents were significantly more accurate in identifying the grams of sugars per serving using the current label compared to the proposed label (81% vs. 65%). They also found respondents were significantly more accurate in identifying the grams of sugars per container using the current label compared to the proposed label (54% vs. 36%).

IFIC Foundation research findings are published online as an Article in Press by the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The full text can be accessed on the journal’s website here.

Full results from IFIC Foundation’s NFP and Sugars Labeling consumer research project can be viewed on the web here.