Pursuing Truth and Transparency in America's Food System

Sweeteners

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It’s a sweet deal for the food industry, but the bitter truth is that sweeteners are making many Americans sick.

High fructose corn syrup (HCFS) and sugar (sucrose) are closely linked to our nation’s epidemic of food-related diseases, such as obesity; type 2 diabetes; cardiovascular, liver and kidney diseases; some types of cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Meanwhile, artificial sweeteners such as aspartame (NutraSweet) and sucralose (Splenda) have health risks as well. Aspartame (used in Diet Coke, Diet Pepsi, Diet Dr Pepper and many other popular products) appears to cause cancer in laboratory animals, and to make people gain more weight even than eating sugar.

There are reasons for concern about sucralose too, because it is made with toxic chlorine and may decompose into toxic compounds, may cause cancer in mice, and it decreases beneficial intestinal bacteria.

What’s troubling in all this is not only the physical toll of these sweeteners – and the marketing of them – on our nation, but the way that the food industry and our government work together to perpetuate it.

Key Documents on Sweeteners

USRTK Letters to FTC, FDA on Artificial Sweeteners

U.S. Right to Know asked the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to stop Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc. from using the term “diet” in advertising, branding and labeling of Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi, because it appears to be deceptive, false and misleading.   The letters are here:
U.S. Right to Know letter to Federal Trade Commission, April 9, 2015
U.S. Right to Know petition to Food and Drug Administration, April 9, 2015

FTC declined to act against deceptive “diet” soda advertising, due to “resource allocation and enforcement priorities.” See our press release and FTC letter, October 14, 2015.

FDA was not “able to reach a decision” on our petition “because of other agency priorities and the limited availability of resources.” See FDA letter, September 22, 2015.

Sugar/Sweeteners

Is Sugar Toxic? Gary Taubes, New York Times, April 13, 2011.

This Is the No. 1 Driver of Diabetes and Obesity. Alexandra Sifferlin, Time, January 29, 2015.

It’s the Sugar, Folks. Mark Bittman, New York Times, February 27, 2013.

Avoiding Sugared Drinks Limits Weight Gain in Two Studies. Roni Caryn Rabin, New York Times, September 21, 2012.

Health Officials Urge F.D.A. to Limit Sweeteners in Sodas. Stephanie Strom, New York Times, February 13, 2013.

Corn Syrup More Toxic Than Table Sugar in Female Mice: StudyReuters, January 5, 2015.

Food For Thought: Eat Your Way to Dementia. Bijal Trivedi, New Scientist, September 3, 2012.

Artificial Sweeteners – general

Sucralose may contribute to insulin resistance in consumers with obesity, Endocrine Today, November 6, 2016

For Weight Loss, Water Beats Diet Soda. Nicolas Bakalar, New York Times, October 20, 2016.

Women Who Regularly Consume Diet Soda May Have Reduced Fertility, Henry Bodkin, The Telegraph, Oct. 17, 2016.

Artificial Sweeteners May Disrupt Body’s Blood Sugar Controls. Kenneth Chang, New York Times, September 17, 2014.

Aspartame

The Safety of Aspartame. New York Times, February 21, 2006.

A Sweetener’s Effects: New Questions Raised. Marian Burros, New York Times, July 3, 1985.

Sweetener Worries Some Scientists. Jane E. Brody, New York Times, February 5, 1985.

Soda/Sugary Drinks

W.H.O. Urges Tax on Sugary Drinks to Fight Obesity, Sabrina Tavernise, New York Times, October 11, 2016.

Health Officials Urge F.D.A. to Limit Sweeteners in Sodas. Stephanie Strom, New York Times, February 13, 2013.

Sugary Drinks Linked to 180,000 Deaths Worldwide. Leslie Wade, CNN, March 19, 2013.

Sugary Drinks Tied to Obesity Among Preschoolers. Genevra Pittman, Reuters, August 5, 2013.

Diet Soda, the Silent Killer? Tom Philpott, Mother Jones, March 1, 2012.

Avoiding Sugared Drinks Limits Weight Gain in Two Studies. Roni Caryn Rabin, New York Times, September 21, 2012.

Liquid Candy: How Soft Drinks Are Harming American’s Health. Center for Science in the Public Interest, 2005.

Sugar Industry

If Soda Companies Don’t Want to be Treated Like Tobacco Companies, They Need to Stop Acting Like Them, Patrick Mustain, Scientific American, October 19, 2016.

Big Sugar’s Sweet Little Lies. Gary Taubes and Cristin Kearns Couzens, Mother Jones, Nov/Dec 2012.