Effects of Science and the Media on Consumer Perceptions about Dietary Sugars1,2

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Public attitudes about dietary sugars have varied over time, depending on numerous factors including consensus and emerging science, public policy, and consumer attention. The rise of obesity, the increasing concern over its associated health consequences, and the role of sugars in the diet continue to be examined by the scientific community. The media, which closely monitor scientific publications and policy development, endeavor to communicate these research findings, along with policy debates, as information for the general public. Because consumers tend to get most of their health and nutrition information from the media, they have been exposed to a significant amount of information on dietary sugars. This article describes how scientific findings and nutrition policy discussions affect media reports and, consequently, consumer perceptions about dietary sugars including obesity, low-carbohydrate diets, the glycemic index, and highfructose corn syrup.

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