WHO Proposes Daily Sugar Intake Reduction

Three Soda BottlesThe World Health Organization (WHO) has just announced draft guidelines to reduce daily sugar intake to five percent of total daily calories.

The current recommendation for daily sugar intake is 10 percent of total calories. The guidelines for limiting the consumption of sugars have been recommended to reduce obesity and dental problems like tooth decay.

The new draft guideline proposes:

  • Sugars should be less than 10 percent of total energy intake per day.

  • A reduction to below five percent of total energy intake per day would have additional benefits. Five percent of total energy intake is equivalent to around six teaspoons of sugar per day for an adult of normal Body Mass Index (BMI).

  • The suggested limits in intake of sugars should apply to all monosaccharides glucose and fructose and disaccharides such as sucrose or table sugar that are added to food by the manufacturer, the cook, or the consumer. This also includes sugars that are naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit concentrates.


Many of the sugars that are consumed today are hidden in processed foods that are not necessarily considered sweets. For example: a can of sugar-sweetened soda contains up to 40 grams 10 teaspoons of sugar. A tablespoon of ketchup contains around four grams of sugar.

The draft guideline was formulated based on analyses of all published scientific studies on the consumption of sugars and how that relates to excess weight gain and tooth decay in adults and children. WHO is accepting comments on the draft guideline until March 31, 2014 and anyone wishing to make a comment must submit a declaration of interests. An expert peer-review process will be conducted over this same period, and once the peer-review and public consultation are completed, all comments will be reviewed, and the draft guidelines will be revised if necessary and cleared by WHOs Guidelines Review Committee before being finalized.

Sugar Drink Consumption

One-half of the U.S. population consumes sugar drinks on any given day and 25 percent consumes at least 200 kilocalories, which is more than one 12-ounce can of soda, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A kilocalorie is a measure representing dietary energy or caloric intake. Kilocalories from sugar drinks are energy from sugar drinks. The percentage of daily kilocalories from sugar drinks is the percentage of total daily energy obtained from sugar drinks.

Sugar-drink consumption differs by sex, age, race and ethnicity, and income. For example, males consume more than females, and teenagers and young adults consume more than other age groups. Among adults, non-Hispanic black and Mexican-Americans consume more than non-Hispanic whites, and low-income individuals consume more sugar drinks in relation to their total diet than higher-income individuals.

More than one-half of sugar drinks are consumed in the home. Most sugar drinks consumed away from home are obtained from stores, but more than one-third are obtained in restaurants or fast-food establishments.

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