DROP THE SUGAR! WHO recommends.

One teaspoon in your morning coffee, 10 grams in the cookies you eat for breakfast, 40 in the can of soda you drink during your lunch-break and… BEWARE! You’ve already exceeded your recommended daily sugar intake.

According to the new WHO guidelines we should reduce the intake of free sugars to less than 10%, or better less than 5% of our total energy intake. In simpler terms, if our diet is made up by 2000 calories we shouldn’t eat more than 50 or better 25 grams of sugar a day. How much is this? Consider that a teaspoon of sugar equals to about 5 grams. To calculate your daily intake you shouldn’t only consider the spoons you add your beverages though, since sugars are added to foods and drinks by manufacturers and naturally present in honey, syrups and fruit juices.

Counting calories, cutting on fatty foods, eating vegetables 5 times a day and now no more sweets? Why should we live such a sugar deprived existence? Well, a bitterer life could mean a longer and healthier life. Reducing the sugar intake is one of the strategies to fight overweight and obesity, which are almost epidemic in some countries not only among adults but also among children. An excess in body weight is a known risk factor for hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases (e.g. cardiac infarct and cerebral stroke) and even some types of cancer.

Reducing sugar intake would also reduce the risk of tooth decay, leading to an unexpected benefit: less visits to the dentist.

The “less than 5% recommendation” is actually conditional, this means it’s not supported by sufficient scientific proof. Allegedly because of this, representatives of the Italian government in the WHO-commission spoke strongly against it. It’s a bit suspicious though, that one of them, Luca Del Balzo, was in the past a senior advisor for Ferrero, a big international confectionery company.

Written by Irene Campagna


5 pensieri su “DROP THE SUGAR! WHO recommends.

  1. The Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine defines RDA as “The actual amounts of each nutrient required to maintain good health in specific individuals differ from person to person”. How can you draft any common guideline fitting different ages, genders, nationalities and weightes? It is insane stating “just drop it!”. In a recent publication the Italian Ministry of Health identified six different classes for which different amounts of nutrients are suggested. The WHO just distinguishes from children and adults.

    Despite the recommended RDA of sugar is significantly higher in the Italian guidelines (90g. for adults) than WHO’s, the last obesity Nations rank places Italy at the bottom of the rank. Moreover, our life expectancy is higher than most of the Country (WHO’s data).

    Except for the correlation of free sugars intake and dental caries (blow me down!), should people be surprised about the lack of strong scientific evidences in WHO’s recommendations?

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    1. Dear Mr Davide concerning your disappointment, it’s a pleasure to introduce you to SmartFood, the project of research and scientific divulgation of IEO which promotes health diet as an important form of cancer prevention. SmartFood subscribes the message of World Cancer Research Fund International which has analyzed the link between some food, obesity and the most frequent cancer and which declares: “Excessive sugar consumption is one factor promoting overweight and obesity, fuelling the growing rates of non-communicable diseases including ten cancer”.
      Here 10 recommendations for oncological prevention developed by SmartFood, check number 3! If you are still skeptical visit “La donna al centro“, a thorough examination reserved to women.

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  2. Last year I read an article about a family who decided to live an entire year without added sugar. And they’re still alive! Not only, but they would never go back. In fact, after one year, they couldn’t tolerate the taste of sugar anymore. Are we all just addicted to sugar? Shall we all stop definitely, instead of questioning about limiting the amount?

    (by Giulia)

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  3. Thread is going out of the line. @cami88db I totally agree with the SmartFood position; my doubt lies on the rough approach of WHO. My granfather and I have different diets, weights and lifestyles as well as my baby cousin. Do you really think our metabolisms need the same intake of nutrients? I did not hold any degree in nutrition but, in my humble opinion, a campaign based on the gramms or the percentages instead of the importance of nutrition education it is meaningless. In this regard, I found an interesting site in which advices are balanced for several classes of people.
    @giottix of course, they survived without adding sugar because (as observed by the blogger) frequently it is already into the food. WHO guidelines do not suggest to remove sugar completely: you do not need any biochemical knowledge to understand it, just use the good sense. Anyway, if interested in alternative diets, I will suggest to follow “Eating Wild“. It is a smart blog in which you will meet people that are “still alive” eating just lichens or other delicatessen.

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  4. Dear Davide, I agree with you that nutrition recommendations should be more targeted, considering for example age, sex and physical activity. Although saying simply “don’t eat too many sweets” like the Italian Ministry of Health does, is not in my opinion a good message. What is too many? This indication is too relative and ambiguous. In these cases you need absolutes. If you are obese you can’t just eat less sweets or drink less sugared drinks, you should avoid them all together, at least until you lose weight. I think this is the message WHO wants to convey. This is a crucial health issue, as Camilla reported. Many people are self-aware and health-conscious enough to follow a healthy diet all by themselves without the need of recommendations, many however aren’t. Though nowadays every food or drink comes with nutrition fact-sheet not everybody reads or understands them. In the UK they tried a new system, in which the percentages of different nutrients present in the food are color-coded, like a traffic light. If it’s green it’s good, if it’s red it’s bad. It may seem quite clever but it gives rise to some paradoxes: for example olive oil is coded red because it’s too “fatty”! Olive oil is obviously a condiment not to eat by itself and its use has actually been linked to major health benefits.
    Dropping the added sugars doesn’t mean not eating sugars all together. Free sugars are present in milk, fruits and vegetables. If you avoid eating industrial snacks and processed foods and drinking sodas or fruit juices, the percentage of free sugars intake easily decreases and in the long run your health will benefit from it.

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