Sugar and Sweeteners Series: Seminar 1

Are proposed policies for reducing sugar intake on a population level truly viable?

From Biology to Behavior: A Cross-Disciplinary Discussion Surrounding Sugar and Sweetener Consumption
The Department of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences at the George Washington University (GW) Milken Institute School of Public Health, in conjunction with the Sumner M. Redstone Global Center for Prevention and Wellness, the GW Food Institute, and the GW Institute for Corporate Responsibility, is hosting a cross-disciplinary seminar series on the topic of sugar and sweeteners. The seminar series will take place on three dates throughout the Spring 2018 semester.
The series will uniquely engage stakeholders across disciplines and will focus on both unanswered questions and potential unintended consequences relevant to lowering sugar intake on a population level. As such, this seminar series is set up to bring together opposing perspectives in presenting key controversies and spurring debate amongst experts in the field. All seminars will be open to the public and registration is free.


Summary of Seminar Background and Purpose
Added sugars are a significant source of calories in the American diet. Approximately 13% of daily calorie intake came from added sugars between 2005 and 2010 in adults, while 16% of daily calories came from added sugars among children over a similar time period. Given the adverse health effects associated with excess sugar intake, sugar reduction is central to the prevention and management of obesity and related chronic diseases. As such, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting added sugar to <10% of daily energy intake. However, strategies for sugar reduction have been met with a variety of challenges and potential unintended consequences of such actions warrant careful consideration.
One commonly used strategy for reducing sugar intake is to replace added sugars with low-calorie (artificial) sweeteners. This large scale shift toward replacing sugar with artificial sweetener is supported by recent data demonstrating that consumption of artificial sweeteners has increased by approximately 200% among children and adolescents since 1999-2000. However, whether artificial sweeteners are helpful or harmful for weight management and chronic disease prevention remains a topic of considerable controversy and many unanswered questions remain. Other key controversies relevant to lowering sugar intake, including the pros and cons of proposed policies, the extent to which sugar and sweeteners are addictive, the feasibility and challenges of product reformulation, and the potential utility of novel sweeteners and ingredients, will be discussed.
The overarching purpose of this seminar series is to provide a neutral forum for discussing and critically evaluating approaches to lowering added sugar intake, in a manner that facilitates representation of a range of diverse stakeholder perspectives. The presentations and discussions will be summarized in a comprehensive manuscript, which will be published in a scientific journal following the seminar series. This will call attention to the key considerations surrounding this urgent public health issue of reducing sugar consumption in the United States.

Seminar 1

3:30p-3:40p: Welcome and Introduction


Speaker: Allison Sylvetsky Meni, PhD
Assistant Professor
The George Washington University


3:40p-4:15p: How Do Farm Bill Policies Impact Population Sugar Intake?


Speaker: 1. Kathleen Merrigan, PhD
Executive Director of Sustainability
The George Washington University


4:15p-4:30p: Break – this time will be used for networking and to Gather Questions from in person and remote participants using Pigeon Hole


4:30p-4:50p: Discussion


Moderator: Kim Robien, PhD
Associate Professor
The George Washington University


4:50p-5:25p: Impact of SSB Taxes on Health and Business


Speakers: 1. Michael Long, PhD
The George Washington University
2. Richard Black, PhD
Formerly PepsiCo


5:25p-5:40p: Break – this time will be used for networking and to Gather Questions from in person and remote participants using Pigeon Hole


5:40p-6:00p: Discussion


Moderator: Bill Dietz, MD PhD
Sumner M. Redstone Global
Center for Prevention and Wellness
The George Washington University