Eat less than 12 teaspoons of sugar a day, says the WHO


Do you supervise and control your child’s sugar intake every day? How about the daily amount of sugar you consume? A new World Health Organization (WHO) guideline issued at the beginning of March says that adults and children should reduce their daily intake of free sugars to less than 10% of their total energy intake. A further reduction to below 5% or roughly 25 grams (6 teaspoons) per day would provide additional health benefits.

WHO experts recommend to keep intake of free sugars to less than 10% of total energy intake in order to reduce the risk of overweight, obesity and tooth decay. Free sugars refer to monosaccharides (such as glucose, fructose) and disaccharides (such as sucrose or table sugar) added to foods and drinks by the manufacturer, cook or consumer, and sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates. It does not refer to the sugars in fresh fruits and vegetables, and sugars naturally present in milk, because there is no reported evidence of adverse effects of consuming these sugars.

The WHO warns about the hidden sugars consumed every day with the processed foods that are not usually seen as sweets. As an example, 1 tablespoon of ketchup contains around 4 grams (around 1 teaspoon) of free sugars. A single can of sugar-sweetened soda contains up to 40 grams (around 10 teaspoons) of free sugars.

The intake of sugar varies greatly worldwide, factors like age, setting and country making a huge difference. For instance, in Europe, intake in adults ranges from about 7-8% of total energy intake in countries like Hungary and Norway, to 16-17% in countries like Spain and the United Kingdom, to nearly 25% in Portugal. On the other hand, on the African continent, rural communities in South Africa intake 7.5%, while the urban population’s sugar intake is 10.3%....

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