London, March 5 (Reuters): Adults should eat less than the equivalent of 6 teaspoons of sugar a day if they are to avoid health risks such as weight gain and tooth decay linked to sugary diets, the World Health Organisation said today.
Issuing draft guidelines calling for a new sugar limit of less than 5.0 per cent of daily energy intake, the UN health agency said its recommendations were based on “the totality of evidence regarding the relationship between free sugars intake and body weight and dental caries”.
“Obesity now affects half a billion people in the world, and it is on the rise in all age groups and particularly in low- and middle-income countries,” said Francesco Branca, the WHO’s director of nutrition for health and development, adding that free sugars were a key culprit in that epidemic. Free sugars include monosaccharides and disaccharides that are added to foods by manufacturers, cooks or consumers, and sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit concentrates.
Five per cent of total energy intake is equivalent to around 25 grams — or around 6 teaspoons — of sugar a day for a normal weight adult. “WHO recommends reduced intake of free sugars throughout the life-course,” the agency said in a statement.
It said the 5.0 per cent level should be a target for people to aim for — calling it a “conditional recommendation” — but also reiterated a “strong recommendation” that sugar should account for no more that 10 per cent of total energy intake.