March 5, 2014
WHO Says We Should Half Our Daily Sugar Intake
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
WHO’s 2002 recommendation stated that sugars should make up less than 10 percent of total energy intake per day. However, the latest recommendations by the organization says that sugars should be less than 5 percent of total energy intake, or about six teaspoons.
“Much of the sugars consumed today are “hidden” in processed foods that are not usually seen as sweets. For example, 1 tablespoon of ketchup contains around 4 grams (around 1 teaspoon) of sugars. A single can of sugar-sweetened soda contains up to 40 grams (around 10 teaspoons) of sugar,” WHO said in a statement.
The new guidelines are based on analyses of published scientific studies on the consumption of sugars and how that relates to excess weight gain and tooth decay in adults and children. The proposed limits apply to all monosaccharides and disaccharides that are added to food by the manufacturer, cook or consumer. These limits also apply to natural sugars found in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit concentrations.
"Obesity now affects half a billion people in the world, and it is on the rise in all age groups and particularly in low- and middle-income countries," Francesco Branca, WHO's director of nutrition for health and development, told Reuters.
The organization said there is an increasing concern that consumption of free sugars may result in both reduced intake of food containing more nutritionally adequate calories and an increase in total caloric intake, which could lead to an unhealthy diet, weight gain and an increased risk of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs).
Free sugars also play a role in dental disease, which cost between five and 10 percent of health budgets in industrialized countries.
“The objective of this guideline is to provide recommendations on the consumption of free sugars to reduce the risk of NCDs in adults and children, with a particular focus on the prevention and control of weight gain and dental caries,” WHO said in a statement.
The organization said when the guidelines are finalized, program managers and policy planners should assess current intake of free sugars relative to a benchmark and develop measures to decrease intake of free sugars through public health interventions.
WHO’s announcement comes a day after Britain’s chief medical officer suggested a sugar tax be set into place in order to curb obesity rates, according to BBC News. Sally Davies told a health select committee this week that research has shown that sugar is addictive, and one day a sugar tax may need to be introduced.
"We have a generation of children who, because they're overweight and their lack of activity, may well not live as long as my generation,” Davies told the committee. "We may need to move towards some form of sugar tax, but I hope we don't have to."