A new guideline from the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that adults and children should reduce their daily sugar intake to less than 10 percent of their overall calories, with additional health benefits realized if sugar intake was limited to under 5 percent.
“We have solid evidence that keeping intake of free sugars to less than 10 percent of total energy intake reduces the risk of overweight, obesity and tooth decay,” says Dr. Francesco Branca, director of WHO’s Department of Nutrition for Health and Development. “Making policy changes to support this will be key if countries are to live up to their commitments to reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases.”
The free sugars mentioned in the study refer to monosaccharides (such as glucose, fructose) and disaccharides (such as sucrose or table sugar) added to foods and drinks by the manufacturer, cook or consumer, and sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates.
This guideline does not apply to sugars in fresh fruits and vegetables, and sugars naturally present in milk, because WHO say there is no reported evidence of adverse effects of consuming these sugars.
Overall, WHO said worldwide the intake of sugar by both adults and children is too high. The new guidelines are based on analysis of the latest scientific evidence which shows that adults who consume less sugar have lower body weight and that increasing the amount of sugars in the diet is associated with a weight increase. Additional research shows that children with high intakes of sugar-sweetened drinks are more likely to be overweight or obese than children with a low intake of sugar-sweetened drinks.
WHO first recommended reducing sugar intake to less than 10 percent of a person’s total daily energy intake in 1989. This updated guideline further reduces the recommended sugar intake, cutting it to less than 5 percent.