Mar 07 2014

World Health Organization To Focus On Global Sugar Intake

From a World Health Organization (WHO) Report:

Free sugars contribute to the overall energy density of diets.
Ensuring energy balance is critical to maintaining healthy body weight and
ensuring optimal nutrient intake.
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 (NCDs).
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 industrialised 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. When finalized, the recommendations in this
guideline can be used by program managers and policy planners to
assess current intake of free sugars relative to a benchmark and develop
measures to decrease intake of free sugars, where necessary, through
public health interventions.

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


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