LONDON (AP) — Just try sugar-coating this: The World Health Organization says your daily sugar intake should be just 5 percent of your total calories — half of what the agency previously recommended, according to new draft guidelines published Wednesday.
After a review of about 9,000 studies, WHO’s expert panel says dropping sugar intake to that level will combat obesity and cavities. That includes sugars added to foods and those present in honey, syrups and fruit juices, but not those occurring naturally in fruits.
Many doctors applauded the U.N. agency’s attempt to limit the global sweet tooth.
When WHO last revised its sugar guidelines more than a decade ago, it recommended sugar should be less than 10 percent of daily calories. The U.S. sugar industry was so incensed it lobbied Congress to threaten to withdraw millions of dollars in funding to WHO. A contentious reference to the sugar limit was removed from a global diet strategy, but the recommendation passed.
WHO’s expert group found high sugar consumption is strongly linked to obesity and tooth decay. It noted that heavy people have a higher risk of chronic diseases, responsible for more than 60 percent of global deaths. Dental care costs up to 10 percent of health budgets in Western countries and cause significant problems in the developing world.
A study led by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published last month found too much sugar can raise the chances of fatal heart problems. Researchers found the average American gets about 15 percent of their calories from sugar, similar to other Western nations.