W.H.O. seeks comments on sugar proposal

by Jeff Gelski
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GENEVA — The World Health Organization will accept comments through its web site at www.who.int on its draft guideline on sugar intake until March 31. The W.H.O. currently recommends sugar should make up less than 10% of total energy intake per day. The draft guideline also proposes less than 10% and further suggests that sugar making up less than 5% of total energy intake per day would have additional benefits.

For an adult of normal body mass index (B.M.I.), 5% would be about 25 grams of sugar per day. A single can of a sugar-sweetened soft drink may contain up to 40 grams of sugar.

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

“There is increasing concern that consumption of free sugars, particularly in the form of sugar-sweetened beverages, may result in both reduced intake of foods containing more nutritionally adequate calories and an increase in total caloric intake, leading to an unhealthy diet, weight gain and increased risk of non-communicable diseases (N.C.D.s),” the W.H.O. said.

Tooth decay also concerns the W.H.O.

“Dental diseases are the most prevalent N.C.D.s globally, and though great improvements in prevention and treatment have occurred in the last decade, dental diseases continue to cause pain, anxiety, functional limitation and social handicap through tooth loss for large numbers of people worldwide,” the Geneva-based organization said.

While the W.H.O. accepts comments, a peer-review process will occur over the same time. The guideline, when finalized, will provide countries with recommendations on limiting consumption of sugars to reduce health problems such as obesity and tooth decay.
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