WHO Halves Added Sugar Recommendation

Various kinds of sugar, brown, white and refined sugar

The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued new draft guidelines that would halve the amount of added sugars Americans should eat in a day. The new recommendation is that sugar should ideally make up no more than 5% of total daily calories.

The WHO’s expert panel reviewed approximately 9,000 studies before issuing the new guidelines. While they still state that sugars should make up less than 10% of total energy intake, they found evidence that further reduction to under 5% can significantly minimize weight gain and tooth decay in adults and children. This is equivalent to about 25 grams or six teaspoons of sugar for an adult with normal BMI. For comparison, a tablespoon of ketchup has about four grams, or one teaspoon of sugar, and one can of sugary soda has up to 40 grams, or 10 teaspoons.

According to WHO, the new guidelines apply to “all monosaccharides (such as glucose, fructose) and disaccharides (such as sucrose or table sugar) that are added to food by the manufacturer, the cook or the consumer, as well as sugars that are naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit concentrates.” Sugar present naturally in whole foods like fruit does not count.

Americans currently eat much more sugar than this recommendation – over three times as much. The average American consumes approximately 152 pounds of sugar a year, compared to about two pounds a year two centuries ago. Fortunately, detecting hidden added sugars may soon become easier, as an upcoming overhaul to nutrition labels will require that all added sugars be listed.

The new draft guidelines will be available online for public comment until the end of March.

For help kicking your sugar habit, try this detox challenge.