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National Confectioners Association Responds to American Heart Association Statement on Added Sugars

Contact: Susan Whiteside
(202) 534-1440

August 25, 2009

NCA read the recent statement on sugar consumption by the American Heart Association with interest.  Diet and nutrition concerns are of utmost importance to the confectionery industry.  While the industry agrees with AHA that the consumption of too many calories overall combined with a lack of activity can lead to serious health conditions, we believe it is inappropriate to blame excessive sugar consumption on the dietary ills of the world.  The fact of the matter is simple, as AHA states, food consumption, generally, has increased over time. 

According to data available from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), the same data source used by AHA, candy consumption is not associated with chronic negative health outcomes, such as overweight and obesity, in children and adults.  In fact, children who consumed candy had lower body weights than children who reported eating no candy.  In adults, candy consumers had statistically lower body weight, BMI and waist circumference as compared to non-consumers.  Also in adults there was no association between candy consumption and metabolic syndrome, which is an indicator of increased risk of heart disease. It is worth noting that while consumption of all foods has increased, consumption of candy as a percentage of overall caloric intake, remains stable at about 2% or less of calories.

Consumed in moderation as part of a healthy lifestyle there is a pleasant role for sweetness in our lives. NCA urges the AHA and the broader health community to look for realistic ways to encourage consumers to make healthy choices while finding room for occasional treats.  Consumers may benefit more by straightforward dietary advice, such as "consume less food generally and exercise more."