Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Cut Your Daily Sugar To Six Teaspoons Says Health Organization

The World Health Organization is proposing limiting added sugar daily to six teaspoons, or about 25 grams, not more than about 5% of the daily calories for the average adult. WHO is launching a public consultation on its draft guideline on sugars intake. When finalized, 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).

The suggested limits on intake of sugars in the draft guideline apply to all monosaccharides (such as glucose, 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.

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.

The draft guideline was formulated based on analyses of all published scientific studies on the consumption of sugars and how that relates to excess weight gain and tooth decay in adults and children.

In a statement on the organization's webstie they say there is increasing concern that consumption of free sugars, particularly in the form of sugar-sweetened beverages, may result in both reduced intake of foods containing more nutritionally adequate calories and an increase in total caloric intake, leading to an unhealthy diet, weight gain and increased risk of noncommunicable diseases.

Also of great concern is the role free sugars play in the development of dental diseases, particularly dental caries. Dental diseases are the most prevalent NCDs globally and though great improvements in prevention and treatment have occurred in the last decades, dental diseases continue to cause pain, anxiety, functional limitation and social handicap through tooth loss, for large numbers of people worldwide. 

The treatment of dental diseases is expensive—costing between 5 and 10% of health budgets in industrialized countries—and would exceed the financial resources available for the whole of health care for children in the majority of lower-income 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.

This draft guideline was developed in accordance with WHO’s procedures for evidence-informed guideline development. As part of this process, WHO Member States and all relevant stakeholders are invited to comment on the draft guideline. The public consultation will be open through 31 March 2014. 

During this time, the draft guideline will also undergo peer-review by an external expert group. Once the peer-review and public consultation are complete, the guideline will be finalized and reviewed by the WHO Guidelines Review Committee for final clearance prior to its official release.

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