New WHO guidelines recommend reducing intake of “free sugars” to less than 10% of daily calories, or less than 5% for even more health benefits
New guidelines from the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend that adults and children reduce their daily intake of “free sugars” to less than 10% of total calories. A further reduction to below 5%—or roughly 6 teaspoons per day in a typical 2,000-calorie diet—would provide additional health benefits, the guidelines say.
“Free sugars” refer to monosaccharides (such as glucose and fructose) and disaccharides (such as sucrose or table sugar) that are added to foods and drinks by the manufacturer, cook or consumer, as well as sugars that are naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates. The guidelines do not refer to sugars in fresh fruits and vegetables or sugars naturally present in milk, because there is no reported evidence of adverse effects of consuming these sugars.
“Sugar is not an essential nutrient, and solid evidence shows that it can actually be harmful by contributing to overweight, obesity and tooth decay,” said Dr. Enrique Jacoby, advisor on healthy eating and active living at the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), WHO’s Regional Office for the Americas. “These guidelines will help countries develop policies and actions to reduce consumption of sugars to improve people’s health.”
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