SHARE: The new health warning on sugar that you need to know.

Call to cut sugar intake by half


Undeniably 2013 has been the year of quitting the stuff. With critics saying it is toxic and poisonous.

Other professionals leapt to its defense saying it was merely an empty nutrient but not the evil substance it had been made out to be.

Just the mention of it gets the nutrition wars firing.

But it seems there is more to come with reports of a proposed radical overhaul of worldwide recommended levels.

The UK’s Sunday Times has reported that a confidential draft paper by the World Health Organisation states there should be a “reduction of free sugars intake to 5 per cent or less of total energy”.

What this means is that experts are recommending you cut your daily intake by half so that no more than 5 teaspoons of sugar is consumed in a day – a proposal that means many food companies may have to change their products to lower their sugar content.

Free sugars are defined by the WHO as all sugars “added to foods by the manufacturer, cook, or consumer, plus sugars naturally present in honey, syrups and fruit juices”.

The current worldwide recommended level is that people should get no more than 10 per cent of their calories from sugar- that is about 10 teaspoons of sugar a day.

A mars bar contains more than 10 teaspoons of sugar

A diet yoghurt contains about 6 teaspoons of sugar, a mars bar contains more than 10 teaspoons and a 600ml bottle of soft drink has over 16 teaspoons.

That means even your average diet yoghurt would contain more sugar than the WHO recommendations.

In Australia the dietary guidelines were updated earlier this year for the first time and included advice to limit added sugar.

The government recommendations here do not specify a daily limit for carbohydrate, sugar or added sugar intake.

The Australian Food and Grocery Council, which represent the nation’s $110 billion food, drink and grocery manufacturing industry, argued against limiting added sugar in our guidelines.


Deputy chief executive Geoffrey Annison told the ABC that the jury should still be out.

“We will be continually looking at evidence. In fact there’s been evidence even in the last couple of months indicating that sugar is no more than a carbohydrate.

“It does contribute to energy in the diet and of course it is important that people do meet the energy-in, energy-out equation in terms of maintaining a healthy weight.”

The draft WHO proposal follows a study of tooth decay. It comes after claims that sugar may play a key role in rising obesity and heart disease, which is strongly disputed by the food industry.

The Sunday Times reported that Philip James, president of the WHO-affiliated International Association for the Study of Obesity said, “It is political dynamite,”

“The food industry will do everything in their power to undermine this.”

Earlier this year a lengthy video of Robert Lustig, a US Professor, of clinical paediatrics at the University of California and an expert on childhood obesity went viral with his calls for laws that that restrict sugar as if it were alcohol or tobacco. His video attracted over 4 million hits.

But yet companies such as Kellogs continue to attract criticism for their claims that high sugar is not linked to obesity.

In the UK the Coco Pops website claimed earlier this year: ‘A panel of world health experts recently reviewed all the evidence and concluded that a high sugar intake is not related to obesity, or the development of diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure or cancer.

‘Nor was it connected to behavioural problems, such as hyperactivity, in children.’

But it tastes so good Mum!

With just a small bowl of coco pops containing over 5 teaspoons of sugar many parents may dispute this claim.

It seems the jury is still out overall on sugar – but these new guidelines may just have the power to change our diets for the better.