Health experts want further cuts in the consumption of sugar

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The World Health Organization is undertaking a global public consultation on new proposals to limit the consumption of sugars to reduce public health problems like obesity and tooth decay.

Currently, WHO recommends that sugars should make up less than 10 per cent of total energy intake per day.

In its new draft guidelines, WHO says there would be additional public health benefits if this limit was lowered to as much as 5 per cent.

The proposals seeks to set limits to the amount of sugar added to food by the manufacturers, as well as sugars that are naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit concentrates.

WHO says much of the sugars consumed today are hidden in processed foods that are not usually seen as sweets. For example, one tablespoon of ketchup contains around one teaspoon of sugar while a single can of soda contains up to 10 teaspoons of sugar.

Dr Francesco Branca is the Director of Nutrition for Health and Development at WHO.

"The increase in sugar intake is associated to an increase in body weight and a decrease in sugar intake is associated to a decrease in body weight. That has been demonstrated by control trials, by randomized control trials. So that clearly indicates that changes in sugar intake would be leading to changes in the risk of obesity. That has been demonstrated in adults. We also demonstrated that having high sugar intake in children is associated with higher body weight or fatness in children. There are some already actions in that regard; for example, the many countries who have been issuing new regulations on the provision of food in public institution and particularly in school canteens and cafeterias, having different products available, having water fountains in schools instead of vending machines serving soft drinks."

Comments on the draft guideline are being accepted via the WHO website from the 5th through to 31st March 2014.

Patrick Maigua, United Nations, Geneva.

Duration:  2’18″


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