World Health Organization (WHO) changes sugar guidelines

 In Media


Background on the recommendation

The World Health Organization has decreased their sugar guidelines for the total daily consumption of added sugar to 5% or less of the daily caloric intake.  After a review of about 9,000 studies, WHO’s expert panel says dropping sugar intake to that level will combat obesity and cavities. That includes sugars added to foods and those present in honey, syrups and fruit juices, but not those occurring naturally in fruits.

What were the prior recommendations?

The prior recommendation was 10%.  With the new lower level of 5%,  this would mean that the average adult female that consumes a 1500 calorie per day diet can  only have 75 calories of added sugar, or about 20 grams of sugar per day. To put into perspective, an 8 oz glass of orange juice contains 21 grams of sugar.

Is eating the orange better than drinking the juice?

If you decided to eat the orange instead of drinking the juice, you are consuming on average about 9 grams of sugar…but the key is that the fiber in the orange acts like a protective coating and therefore reduces the absorption of the sugar. The natural sugars in fruits and vegetables always contain this protective fiber. When you juice the fruit or vegetable you remove the fiber and therefore make the sugar in the juice easily absorbed… So , yes, eating the fruit is better.

What does a can of soda have?

A can of Coca Cola contains  39 grams of added sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup.  Therefore, consuming one can of soda is twice the amount of added sugar an average adult female should have in an entire day.  By they way, sugar has 4 calories per gram.

What the experts say

“These are reasonable limits,” says Walter Willett, head of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts. “Five per cent of calories is just a bit less than in a typical serving of soda, and we have good evidence of increased risk of diabetes with that intake, which of course increases with greater intake.”

But Marion Nestle, a nutrition researcher at New York University, predicts that grocery manufacturers are not going to take the proposal lying down. “If people follow this advice, that would be very bad for business,” she says.  This is important to remember, as the US Sugar Association, a powerful food-industry lobby group based in Washington DC, will do everything in its power to fight this recommendation.


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