Adults and children are recommended to reduce their daily intake of free sugars to <10% of total energy intake, according to a new guideline released by the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO guideline does not refer to sugars found in fresh fruits, vegetables, or milk.

The “strong” recommendation to reduce sugar intake to <10% of total energy is supported by scientific evidence that show adults who consume less sugars have lower body weight, and that a higher amount of sugar in the diet is linked to a weight increase. Research has also shown that children with the greatest intake of sugar-sweetened beverages are more likely to be overweight or obese vs. children with a low intake of sugar-sweetened beverages. More dental caries were seen with free sugar intake >10% of total energy than with <10% of total energy.

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The guideline also includes a “conditional” recommendation stating that a reduction in free sugar intake to <5% (6 teaspoons or 25g) daily would offer added health benefits. This recommendation is supported by few epidemiological studies that were conducted in populations with low sugar intake. Three population-wide studies compared the rate of dental caries with a sugar intake <5% of total energy vs. >5%–<10% of total energy.

The updated guideline is intended for use with other nutrient guidelines and dietary goals, particularly those regarding fats and fatty acids.

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