Nutrition News: FDA Sets Sugar Cap, Pros Offer Pantry Tips, Junk Food Gets an Out

Junk food alone isn’t driving the obesity epidemic, one study indicates. The FDA recommends a sugar limit, and nutrition pros offer pantry tips.
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Junk Food Is Not the Sole Culprit

While no one’s saying soda, candy and fast food are healthy, a new study suggests they alone cannot be blamed for the obesity epidemic. Cornell University Food and Brand Lab co-directors David Just, Ph.D., and Brian Wansink, Ph.D., analyzed the dietary habits of about 5,000 U.S. adults and found that, for 95 percent of the population, there was no link between the consumption of soda, candy and fast food and weight gain. "These are foods that are clearly bad for you and if you eat too much of them they will make you fat, but it doesn't appear to be the main driver that is making people overweight and obese," Just told HealthDay. The researchers said eating less and exercising more overall is the key to controlling weight, and they clarified that they are not endorsing a junk food diet, even in moderation. "These foods aren't good for you," Just said. "There is no good argument for soda in your diet."

FDA Sets Sugar Limits

The Food and Drug Administration has just, for the first time, recommended a daily limit on sugar, suggesting that added sugar account for no more than 10 percent of Americans' intake of daily calories. For most people, that translates to a maximum of 12 1/2 teaspoons, or 50 grams, daily — or about the amount found in a single can of Coke. But, The New York Times warns, generally speaking, giving up sweetened beverages won’t be enough to adhere to the limit. That’s because added sugar lurks in all sorts of foods, from cookies and candy to yogurts, granolas, pasta sauces, condiments and salad dressings. “There is a lot of hidden sugar in our food supply, and it’s not just in sweets,” Dr. Frank Hu, a Harvard nutrition and epidemiology professor who is on the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, told the Times. We’ve been warned.

Get Pantry-Stocking Tips from the Pros

Want to stock your shelves like a nutrition professional? U.S. News offers a rundown of foods dietitians always keep in the pantry. On the list: canola oil, extra virgin olive oil, dried plums, oats, pistachio nuts, chickpeas, beans and lentils. These pantry staples can provide health benefits for your heart, gut, bones and more. They can help you control your weight, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and lower your risk for diabetes and coronary disease. Get out the shopping list.

Amy Reiter is a writer and editor based in New York. A regular contributor to The Los Angeles Times, she has also written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Glamour, Marie Claire, The Daily Beast and Wine Spectator, among others, as well as for Salon, where she was a longtime editor and senior writer. In addition to contributing to Healthy Eats, she blogs for Food Network’s FN Dish .

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