As though we needed more reasons to put down those candy bars and stop adding so much sugar to our morning coffees, the World Health Organization (WHO) has now released a statement that recommends that we cut back our daily sugar intake to a maximum of 5 percent of our total daily calories. This is half of what had previously been recommended by the WHO.
Why the WHO Further Reduced Sugar Intake Recommendations
The expert panel at the WHO made this recommendation after having conducted a massive review of about 9,000 studies. It is now advising people to decrease their sugar intake to a level that will help to decrease the instance of both obesity and dental cavities.
Here’s where it gets a little bit complicated. While this recommendation does include the sugars that are added to foods in the form of white sugar, glucose, fructose, honey, syrups, fruit juices, and other added sweeteners, it does not include those that occur naturally in whole fruits and vegetables. It is the added sugars that the WHO is seeking to reduce – anything not already naturally occurring within nutritious foods.
With the Sweet Stuff, Less is More
Western nations such as the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and others, are known for eating far more sugar than the daily recommendation from the WHO. In fact, the sugar intake of the average American would need to drop by two thirds in order to comply with the newly recommended limit.
Many doctors are thrilled to see this latest report from the WHO, as they have already felt that this limit to daily sugar intake should be suggested. Added sugars are not something that is required in order to be healthy but consuming too much of them can lead to serious health concerns. Therefore, the less sugar that an individual consumes every day – and as a whole – the better.
Sugar Intake is as Important to Control as Fat Consumption
While a great deal of attention has been placed on eating bad fats over the years, a great deal of research is starting to show that added sugars can be even worse for a person’s health than the equivalent caloric value in unhealthy fats.
The last time that the WHO conducted a review and revision of its sugar guidelines was more than ten years ago. At that time, it had recommended that sugar consist of no more than 10 percent of an individual’s daily calorie intake.
Now that the latest report has been made from that U.N. health organization, the American sugar industry was so angered that it has started lobbying Congress to threaten to reduce its WHO funding by millions of dollars.
How Much is Too Much?
According to the WHO, free sugar intake, that is, the added forms, not the naturally occurring forms inside fruits and veggies, for instance, should be kept to under 5 percent of daily caloric intake. For the average healthy adult, that usually means a maximum of 5 teaspoons.
While that doesn’t sound like much, regular foods in the average American diet can cause it to add up exceptionally quickly. Even certain foods that market themselves as being healthy options can use your entire daily allowance of added sugars in a few bites.
There are 4 grams of sugar in a teaspoon. This means that you should be aiming for 20 grams of sugar or fewer per day. However, this entire amount is used in less than one cup of lemonade. A small 6-ounce pot of fruit-flavored yogurt contains about 20 grams. A cup of chocolate milk contains 24 grams of sugar! It’s easy to see why so many kids’ nutrition groups have been working to remove flavored milks from schools when it’s laid out that way.
To reduce added sugar intake, the recommendation is to stop adding sweeteners to foods and beverages, to eat more meals and snacks made with whole food ingredients, and to avoid highly processed foods when possible. Read the labels on sauces and dressings. You may be surprised at how many sugars they contain, particularly in those labeled as having reduced fat, as those products frequently replace flavor using sweeteners.