World Health Organization’s Recommendations to Cut Sugar Intake in Half Aren’t Enough

In a new dietary proposal, the World Health Organization (WHO) is advising that sugar intakes drop from 10 percent of total calories to 5 percent. They base their recommendations on two papers that found added sugars increase body mass index (BMI), and diets that reduce added sugar consumption to less than 5 percent reduce dental cavities.

“There is increasing concern that consumption of free sugars, particularly in the form of sugar-sweetened beverages, may result in both reduced intake of foods containing more nutritionally adequate calories and an increase in total caloric intake, leading to an unhealthy diet, weight gain, and increased risk of non-communicable diseases [chronic disease].” The recommendation has not officially accepted but is in the proposal state.

I applaud the WHO for tightening up their recommendations on added sugar intake. Reducing sugar intake is a step in the right direction. But honestly, I believe that added sugar has no place in a healthy diet. Overconsumption of sugary foods, along with foods high in refined and starchy carbohydrates, are a major—if not the major—contributor to chronic disease. And if you have ever experienced sugar cravings (who hasn’t?), you know that there is a fine line between “just one bite” and “just ate the whole cake/pint of ice cream/box of cookies.

If you’ve checked your local grocery store lately, you will see that we have a long way to go before added sugar no longer laces many of the foods available for purchase. In the meantime, we can all make the right choices for ourselves. Read the labels of the foods you buy. Try to eat foods that are very low in sugar and that do not contain sugar (or its many derivatives) in the ingredient list.

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