WHO: Cut sugar intake to fight obesity and tooth decay


Europeans’ current sugar consumption varies from between 7 to 17% of their energy intake. [Daniel horacio Agostini/Flickr]

Adults and children must cut the amount of sugar they consume every day in fizzy drinks and sweet foods to lower their risk of obesity and tooth decay, the World Health Organisation has said.

People should reduce the amount to less than 10% of their daily energy intake — about 50 grams or 12 teaspoons of sugar for adults which is about half the current rate in North and South America, experts at the UN body told Reuters on 4 March.

A cut to less than 5% would be even better, they added.

“We have solid evidence that keeping intake of free sugars to less than 10% of total energy intake reduces the risk of being overweight, obesity and tooth decay,” Dr Francesco Branca, director of WHO’s Department of Nutrition for Health and Development, said in a statement.

In many EU countries the population’s intake exceeds the 10% limit. Europeans’ current sugar consumption varies from between 7% to 17% of their energy intake.

Monique Goyens, director-general at the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC), said that unfortunately, consumers have no idea of how much sugar they eat. Most of it was hidden in processed foods and drinks, and hard to spot on labels.

“One would never add four to five teaspoons of sugar to a cup of tea or coffee. But this could be the amount you can ingest by eating a single yoghurt,” she said.

“It is reassuring that the WHO has sugar overconsumption on its radar. We hope these guidelines will inspire the food industry to cut down sugar in their products and policy makers to take bold actions to tackle obesity and being overweight, especially among children,” Goyens added.

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