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Reducing sugars intake to less than 10% of total daily calories: a strong recommendation from WHO.

The WHO has recommended to governments to take measures to reduce sugar intake to less than 10% of daily calories. The new sugar guideline points out that further reduction to 5% – which equates to around 25g or 6 teaspoons per day – would bring further benefits to health.

There is increasing concern that consumption of free sugars, especially in the form of sugar-sweetened drinks, may have as result reduced intake of foods containing more nutritionally adequate calories and an increase in total calorie intake, leading to an unhealthy diet, weight gain and increased risk of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as type-2 diabetes and cardio-vascular disease.

The new proposals aim to lower daily sugar intake for the general global population, based on the evidence that keeping the intake of free sugars to less than 10% of total energy intake reduces the risk of overweight, obesity and tooth decay. Furthermore, this new updated WHO guideline calls for further reduction of free sugars intake to less than 5% of total energy intake.

According to the new guideline, which is also part of WHO’s effort to reach targets set by the Global Action Plan for NCDs 2013-2020 to halt the rise in diabetes and obesity and reduce the burden of premature deaths due to NCDs by 25% by 2025, these recommendations are ranked as “strong” by WHO, which means they can be adopted as policy. The recommendations in this guideline should be used by 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.

In March 2014, EPHA commented on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) draft guidelines for sugar intake for adults and children, which have now been finalised and published. EPHA made clear its recommendation to lower total calorie sugar intake from 10% to 5% on a premise to offer additional potential health benefits.

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