The US Food and Drug Administration suggested that food labels should contain more detail about how much sugar is added in a packaged food. The added amount of sugar would be expressed as a percentage of the daily recommended limit.
The proposal by the US FDA is now open for a 75-day comment period.
"This would fill a gap by providing the same valuable content already available to consumers for other nutrients," said Susan Mayne, FDA's director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.
The daily recommended amount for sugars would be set at 50 grams of added sugars for adults and children age four and older, and 25 grams for children aged one to three.
"For example, a consumer who drinks a 20-ounce sugared beverage may be surprised to know it contains about 66 grams of added sugar, which would be listed on the label as 132 percent of the daily value," Mayne wrote in a blog post.
Labels currently contain information on saturated fat, dietary fiber and sodium, as well as certain nutrients, but not on recommended sugar intake as a percentage of daily value.
"Why propose providing this additional information to consumers? Scientific data shows that it is difficult to meet nutrient needs while staying within calorie requirements if you consume more than 10 percent of your total daily calories from added sugar," Mayne said.
Health experts say sugar increases the risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
The FDA proposal was welcomed by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer group, which described it as "solidly grounded in science."
However, the group urged the FDA to express the amount of sugar in teaspoons as well as grams, so that people could better understand the amounts.
"Consumers understand teaspoons far better than grams and strongly prefer that amounts of added sugars be listed in teaspoons," said CSPI health promotion policy director Jim O'Hara.