FRIDAY, Sept. 3, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Implementation of a sugar reduction policy could yield considerable health benefits and cost savings, according to a study published online Aug. 27 in Circulation.

Siyi Shangguan, M.D., M.P.H., from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, at Tufts University in Boston, and colleagues used a validated microsimulation model to estimate incremental changes in type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease (CVD), quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs), costs, and cost-effectiveness of the U.S. National Salt and Sugar Reduction Initiative (NSSRI) proposed government-supported voluntary national sugar reduction target policy. A simulated nationally representative U.S. population was created and followed, with 2019 as the year of intervention initiation.

The researchers found that achieving the NSSRI sugar reduction targets could prevent 2.48 million CVD events, 0.49 million CVD deaths, and 0.75 million cases of diabetes; in addition, 6.67 million QALYs would be gained and $160.88 billion net costs would be saved from a societal perspective over a lifetime. At six, seven, and nine years, the policy became cost-effective, highly cost-effective, and cost-saving, respectively. In addition, the policy could reduce disparities, with the greatest health gains estimated for Black and Hispanic, lower-income, and less-educated Americans.

“We hope that this study will help push the reformulation initiative forward in the next few years,” Shangguan said in a statement. “Reducing the sugar content of commercially prepared foods and beverages will have a larger impact on the health of Americans than other initiatives to cut sugar, such as imposing a sugar tax, labeling added sugar content, or banning sugary drinks in schools.”

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical and nutrition industries.

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