Background

Building on the success of the National Salt Reduction Initiative in reducing sodium content in packaged food, the NSRI has expanded its focus to added sugar. Now known as the NSSRI, this partnership of over 100 state and local health authorities and national health organizations convened by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is encouraging voluntary corporate commitments to sugar and sodium reduction targets and monitoring industry progress over time. A food supply lower in added sugar will make it easier for consumers to make healthy choices and may prevent obesity and chronic disease.

Methods

Food and beverage categories were created through an iterative process that considered the products contributing most to added sugar intake in the U.S., opportunities and technical challenges for sugar reduction and feedback from industry. Targets were set by linking 2017 Nielsen sales data with nutrition information from Label Insight. For each category, the baseline sales-weighted mean (SWM) sugar density (g/100g or 100mL) was calculated for all branded products in the top 80% of sales, with allowances for naturally occurring sugars in certain categories. Targets were set based on a percent reduction from the SWM. This database will be updated over time to monitor changes in the food supply.

Results

After releasing preliminary categories and targets in October 2018 and reviewing industry comments, the proposed categories and targets were revised and released for a final round of input in July 2019. The revisions set targets for 15 categories, and represent a 20% reduction in sugar in packaged foods and a 40% reduction in sugary drinks by 2026. Final targets will be released in late 2019.

Conclusions

The NSSRI is an innovative national partnership to promote gradual, achievable and meaningful reductions in sugar content in packaged foods and beverages. Using the partnership model we established for sodium, we have been able to incorporate sugar into these national efforts.