The amount of added sugars in soda and other sweetened beverages needs to be regulated, according to a Washington, D.C.-based nutrition advocacy group—and many Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers agree.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) filed a petition with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration calling for the agency to set limits on added sugars in beverages. The petition was signed by 10 public health departments, a variety of medical organizations, and 42 highly respected nutrition researchers—including seven from HSPH.

While the FDA considers sugar to be a “safe” food at the recommended level of consumption, “Americans are consuming two to three times that much,” CSPI Executive Director Michael Jacobson said at a February 13, 2013 press briefing about the petition. People shouldn’t consume more than eight teaspoons of sugar a day, according to the American Heart Association. But surveys show that people in the U.S. consume an average of 18 to 23 teaspoons a day. A typical 20-ounce bottle of soda has about 16 teaspoons of sugar. Research suggests that Americans’ growing intake of sugary drinks has contributed to the current obesity epidemic and a rise in related diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers.

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