FILE - This is a Thursday

FILE - This is a Thursday

UN: World eating too much sugar; cut to 5-10 per cent of diet

No way to sugarcoat this: WHO says sugar should be no more than 5-10 per cent of total calories

  • Mar. 4, 2015 11:00 a.m.

By Maria Cheng, The Associated Press

LONDON – New guidelines from the World Health Organization are enough to kill anyone’s sugar high. The U.N. health agency says the world is eating too much sugar and people should slash their intake to just six to 12 teaspoons per day – an amount that could be exceeded with a single can of soda.

So, put down that doughnut. And while you’re at it, skip the breakfast cereal, fruit juice, beer and ketchup.

The guidelines, released Wednesday, finalize draft advice first released last year and are focused on the added sugars in processed food, as well as those in honey, syrups and fruit juices. The advice does not apply to naturally occurring sugars in fruit, vegetables and milk, since those come with essential nutrients.

“We have solid evidence that keeping intake of (added) sugars to less than 10 per cent of total energy intake reduces the risk of overweight, obesity and tooth decay,” Francesco Branca, director of WHO’s nutrition department, said in a statement.

Experts have long railed about the dangers of sugar and studies suggest that people who eat large amounts of the sweet stuff are at higher risk of dying prematurely from heart problems, diabetes and cancer, among other conditions.

To meet the lower threshold set by the new guidelines, Americans, Europeans and others in the West would have to slash their average sugar intake by about two-thirds.

Americans get about 13 per cent of their calories from added sugar, or 268 calories a day, the equivalent of about 18 teaspoons. One teaspoon of sugar is about 15 calories. In Europe, sugar intake ranges from about 7 per cent in Hungary and Norway, to 17 per cent in Britain to nearly 25 per cent in Portugal.

Some experts said the 10 per cent target was more realistic for Western countries than the lower target. They said the 5 per cent of daily calories figure was aimed mostly at developing countries, where dental hygiene isn’t good enough to prevent cavities, which can lead to serious health problems.

Last month, a U.S. government advisory committee recommended that sugar be limited to 10 per cent of daily calories, marking the first time the U.S. has called for a limit on added sugars. The Agriculture and Health and Human Services departments will take those recommendations into account when writing the final guidelines, due by the end of the year.

WHO had previously suggested an upper limit for sugar consumption of around 10 per cent, but issued the 5 per cent guidance based on the presumed additional health benefits from cutting intake even further, though it said it had no solid evidence to support that.

“To get down to 5 per cent, you wouldn’t even be allowed to have orange juice,” said Tom Sanders, a professor of nutrition and dietetics at King’s College London who wasn’t part of the WHO guidelines.

He said it shouldn’t be that difficult for most Europeans, Americans and others in the developed world to get their sugar intake to 10 per cent of their diet if they limit things like sugary drinks, cereals, beer, cookies and candy.

“Cake is lovely, but it’s a treat,” Sanders said.

The Sugar Association slammed the new recommendations, arguing the advice was based on “poor quality, weak and inconsistent data.” It noted WHO itself acknowledged the evidence for the 5 per cent target was “very low quality.”

The International Council of Beverages Associations echoed those concerns and said beverage makers can help people cut back on sugar through smaller portion sizes, as well as no- and low-calorie drinks and providing nutritional information on labels.

Coca-Cola, for example, has been more aggressively marketing its “mini cans” and has launched a reduced-calorie version of its namesake soda called Coca-Cola Life that’s sweetened with a mix of sugar and stevia, a natural sweetener. Companies have also been working on new technologies to reduce sugar. Senomyx, based in California, makes ingredients that interact with taste receptors to block or amplify sweetness. They have no taste or smell and are listed as artificial flavours.

Last year, the U.S. proposed new nutrition labels that would be required to list any sugars added by manufacturers.

Sugar is just one of a number of ingredients that have come under attack, such as salt and trans fat. However, WHO pointed out that when it comes to sugar, most people don’t realize how much they’re eating because it’s often hidden in processed foods not considered sweet. For example, one tablespoon of ketchup has about 4 grams (1 teaspoon) of sugar and a single can of soda has up to 40 grams (10 teaspoons).

“The trouble is, we really do like sugar in a lot of things,” said Kieran Clarke of the University of Oxford, who said the global taste for sugar bordered on an addiction. “Even if you are not just eating lollies and candy, you are probably eating a fair amount of sugar.”

Clarke noted that there’s added sugar even in pasta sauces and bran cereals. She said fruit juices and smoothies were common dietary offenders, because they have very concentrated amounts of sugar without the fiber benefits that come with eating the actual fruit.

Clarke welcomed the new WHO guidelines but said people should also consider getting more exercise to balance out their sweet tooths.

“If you do enough exercise, you can eat almost anything,” she said. “But it’s very hard to avoid large amounts of sugar unless all you’re eating is fruits and vegetables.”

___

Associated Press writers Candice Choi in New York and Mary Clare Jalonick in Washington contributed to this report.

___

Online:

WHO’s sugar guidelines

http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/149782/1/9789241549028_eng.pdf

Just Posted

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

Kalyn Head, seen here on June 4, 2021, will be running 100 kilometres for her “birthday marathon” fundraiser on July 23. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Woman’s 100-km birthday marathon from Chilliwack to Abbotsford will benefit Special Olympics B.C.

Kalyn Head hopes run raises awareness, advocates for inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities

Missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs was found deceased on Thursday evening (June 17).
Body of missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs found

Hobbs was reported missing Monday after leaving his job site in Langley

UFV athletes were honoured for their strength and perseverance during the pandemic. (UFV photo)
Fraser Valley athletes recognized in year without sports

UFV Cascades athletes honoured for strength shown during the pandemic

web
Mission students hold rally, say everyone welcome at school

Ecole Christine Morrison Elementary School hosted an Anti-Racism Day on June 15

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Surrey Fire Service battled a dock fire along the Fraser River late Friday night (June 18). It was on Musqueam Drive, near Industrial Road, around 10:45 p.m. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
VIDEO: Fire engulfs pier on Surrey side of the Fraser River

Dock has reportedly been unused for a long time

People in Metro Vancouver can expect to experience a short wave of heat just in time for Father’s Day, according to Environment Canada. (Black Press Media files)
Short-lived heatwave headed for Metro Vancouver this weekend

Temperatures are expected to be up to 10 degrees higher than average Sunday and Monday

Bruce Springsteen performs at the 13th annual Stand Up For Heroes benefit concert in support of the Bob Woodruff Foundation in New York on Nov. 4, 2019. (Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Canadians who got AstraZeneca shot can now see ‘Springsteen on Broadway’

B.C. mayor David Screech who received his second AstraZeneca dose last week can now attend the show

Most Read