The World Health Organization (WHO) has drafted a guideline recommending that added sugars make up no more than 10% of a person’s calories, and ideally just 5%. If you consume 1800 calories a day, then only 180 should come from added sugars. Divide 180 by 4 to get 45 grams of added sugar per day. A 12-ounce can of cola has 40 grams of sugar.
This recommendation is not new, as Marion Nestle points out in her blog. It’s just that for years the sugar industry has been able to silence the WHO through intense pressure on the US government, which in turn led to omitting low-sugar dosages from previous health guidelines.
The WHO’s draft guideline comes weeks after the FDA revealed its proposal for an updated nutrition label, which lists added sugars as a separate line item. The current label lists total sugars.
How will these policy changes affect our health?
Sugars have unequivocally been shown to cause excess weight gain (and cavities). There is no health benefit to consuming so much sugar. By spotlighting added sugars, consumers will be reminded to consume less.
It will be interesting to watch how the food industry responds. When fat was considered “evil” 40 years ago, a wave of unhealthy “low-fat” foods appeared. What will the low-sugar equivalent be? Hopefully something better than aspartame or stevia sweetened everything…
- Dietary sugars and body weight: systematic review and meta-analyses of randomised controlled trials and cohort studies
Conducted by the University of Otago, New Zealand) published in the BMJ
- Effect on caries of restricting sugars intake: Systematic review to inform WHO guidelines
Conducted by Newcastle University, UK) published in the Journal of Dental Research