WHO calls on countries to reduce sugars intake
Recently, I posted the new dietary guidelines from health.gov. One of their recommendations was to reduce added sugars. This is a great first step in the right direction. Now on a broader scale, the World Health Organization (WHO) has taken an important stand on sugar. In a recent report the guidelines recommend adults and children reduce their daily intake of free sugars to less than 10% of their total energy intake. “Free sugars 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 recommendation made on the global scale, using scientific validation, is a boon to the American dietary guidelines. Although Americans consume three times the recommended amount of sugar, we’re not the only country with this issue of over-consumption of sugar in our daily diets. From rural South Africa to Portugal – where sugar consumption is 25% of total caloric intake for children – this unhealthy trend is on the rise. The report hasn’t come a minute too soon.
The WHO guideline does not refer to the sugars in fresh fruits and vegetables, and sugars naturally present in milk, because there is no reported evidence of adverse effects of consuming these sugars. The majority of the findings were from processed food where sugar is added in the manufacture of products not generally regarded as sweets. For example, 1 tablespoon of ketchup contains around 4 grams (around 1 teaspoon) of free sugars. A single can of sugar-sweetened soda contains up to 40 grams (around 10 teaspoons) of free sugars.
Although this report makes a strong recommendation to reduce sugars to 10% of total energy intake, the report goes further to make a conditional recommendation to lower sugar consumption to 5%. So many people would not abide a sudden change to drop their caloric intake of sugar to 5% but it raises the awareness of health issues that result from overindulgence in sugar. The incremental recommendation to decrease sugar is the first step to getting the world’s perception that sugar is at the root of many of the growing health concerns such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and tooth decay.
What we need to do
As a group of concerned citizens, we need to demand our food manufacturers stop adding sugars to food to keep up addicted and keep buying. We need to create a movement for change. We deserve better. Our children deserve better. Make a point to voice your opinion on nutrition by using your pocketbook. Avoid buying foods with added sugar. Let’s try to clear off the grocery store shelves of junk foods. It’s time to create a #RealFoodRevoltution.
More to come…