GENEVA—The World Health Organization (WHO) launched a public consultation on its draft guideline regarding sugar intake. WHO aims to provide countries with recommendations for limiting sugar consumption, which may help reduce health problems such as obesity and tooth decay.
Comments on the draft guideline will be accepted on the WHO website from March 5 to March 31, 2014. Anyone who wishes to comment must submit a declaration of interests, and 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 then they will be cleared by WHO’s Guidelines Review Committee before being finalized.
WHO’s current recommendation, from 2002, states 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, and it suggests that a reduction to less than 5% of total energy intake per day would have additional benefits (5% of total energy intake is equivalent to about 25 grams, or 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 or 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 about 4 grams (1 teaspoon) of sugar. A single can of sugar-sweetened soda contains up to 40 grams (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.
For information on replacing added sugars in food and beverage products, check out Food Product Design's feature Reducing Added Sugars.