World Health Organisation proposal to reduce recommended sugar intake by half
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has begun public consultation on its draft guidelines on sugar intake, which recommends that sugars should be less than 10 per cent of total energy intake per day, but that reduction to below 5 per cent would have “additional benefits”.
Five per cent of total energy intake is equivalent to around 25 grams (around 6 teaspoons) of sugar per day for an adult with normal Body Mass Index (BMI). WHO’s current recommendation, from 2002, is that sugars should make up less than 10 per cent of total energy intake per day.
The suggested limits on intake of sugars in the draft guideline apply to all monosaccharides (such as glucose and fructose) and disaccharides (such as sucrose or table sugar) that are added to food by the manufacturer, the cook or the consumer, as well as sugars that are naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit concentrates.
According to WHO, much of the sugars consumed currently were “hidden” in processed foods that are not usually seen as sweets. For example, WHO said 1 tablespoon of tomato ketchup contains “around 4 grams (around 1 teaspoon) of sugars”. A single can of sugar-sweetened soft drink contains “up to 40 grams (around 10 teaspoons) of sugar”.
WHO said the draft guideline was formulated based on analyses of all published scientific studies on the consumption of sugars and how that related to excess weight gain and tooth decay in adults and children.
When finalised, the guideline will provide countries with recommendations on limiting the consumption of sugars to reduce public health problems like obesity and dental caries (commonly referred to as tooth decay). Comments on the draft guideline will be accepted via the WHO website from 5 March 2014 to 31 March 2014. Anyone who wishes to comment must submit a declaration of interests. An expert peer-reviewed process will happen over the same period. Once the peer-review and public consultation are completed, all comments will be reviewed, the draft guidelines will be revised if necessary and cleared by WHO’s Guidelines Review Committee before being finalised.