WHO launches public consultation on draft sugars guideline

That's three times the recommended amount of sugar just there.
That’s three times the recommended amount of sugar just there.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has launched a period of public consultation on its draft guidelines on sugar intake.

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.

WHO’s current recommendation, from 2002, is that sugars should make up less than 10 per cent of total energy intake per day. The new draft guideline also proposes that sugars should be less than 10 per cent of total energy intake per day. It further suggests that a reduction to below 5 per cent of total energy intake per day 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 of normal Body Mass Index (BMI).

This follows on from a study by Newcastle University (commissioned by WHO), that found that halving this threshold for sugars to less than 5 per cent of calories would bring further benefits, minimising the risk of dental cavities throughout life.

In announcing the review of the guidelines, the organisation pointed out that 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.

You can read the draft guidelines here.

Comments on the draft guideline will be accepted via the WHO web site from 5 through 31 March 2014. Anyone who wishes to comment must submit a declaration of interests. An expert peer-review 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 finalized.


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