WHO recommends five percent sugar

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New WHO recommendation on sugar consumption planned

Sugar lurks everywhere: whether in ready-made soups, ketchup, pastries or fruit drinks. Even those who try to eat as little sugar as possible will have a hard time, especially with the ready meals. Because sugar lurks in dishes where the consumer would hardly suspect. The World Health Organization (WHO) plans to drastically reduce sugar consumption. "Only a maximum of five percent of the daily calories should consist of sugar." That is only half as much as the previous WHO specifications.

The current guidelines of the WHO recommend limiting sugar consumption to ten percent of the total daily energy intake. However, a reduction to five percent would have significant health benefits, according to the WHO. In particular, the stricter limitation of sugar consumption reduces the risk of obesity and tooth decay. The WHO is particularly critical of the fact that “today a large part of the sugar consumed is hidden in processed foods that are normally not seen as sweets.” For example, a tablespoon of ketchup contains around four grams of sugar. Sugar is an essential part of many people's daily calorie intake. According to the WHO, sugar consumption not only has a direct adverse effect on health (increased risk of tooth decay, obesity and diabetes), but also the fact that sugary foods often replace healthier foods indirectly show a harmful impact on health.

Not more than 25 grams of sugar a day The suggested five percent of total daily energy intake would correspond to an intake of around 25 grams of sugar in an adult with a normal body mass index (BMI), the WHO reports. The limit takes into account "all monosaccharides (e.g. glucose, fructose) and disaccharides (such as sucrose or table sugar)" that are added to foods, but also the natural sugar in honey, syrup, fruit juices and fruit concentrates. Following the public consultation and the parallel technical assessment, the guidelines are to be finalized and from then on to serve as a recommendation for the federal states to limit sugar consumption. The WHO also hopes that this will "suppress public health problems such as obesity and tooth decay."

Resistance to the WHO guidelines on sugar consumption expected However, the WHO experts can expect violent contradiction in view of their ambitious goal, since the food industry tried to prevent this by introducing the ten percent limit with all possible means. In addition, the average sugar consumption in modern industrialized nations is around three times as high as it is likely to be in the future. Even if the evaluation of thousands of studies suggests that a limitation to five percent of the total daily energy intake would make sense, the WHO guidelines will probably remain at ten percent for the time being. However, the WHO has initiated a discussion that must urgently continue in the future. Because more and more food manufacturers are now using "hidden" sugar in foods that appear unsweetened at first glance. This means that many consumers consume significant amounts of sugar every day without knowing it. (fp)

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Video: Mayo Clinic Minute: Take the sugar challenge

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