WHO recommends reducing daily intake of free sugars to less than 5% of total energy intake.
- Since 1989, the World Health Organization has recommended reducing intake of free sugars (those added to foods and drinks and those naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates) to less than 10% of total daily energy intake. WHO states this advice is based on the connection between a high level of free sugars intake and poor dietary quality, obesity, and risk of noncommunicable diseases.
- The new guidance document includes a “conditional recommendation” to further reduce free sugars intake to less than 5% of total daily energy intake, or about six teaspoons for an average adult. This recommendation is based on evidence WHO describes as “very low quality” linking 5% or less daily energy intake from free sugars to reduction in dental caries.
- According to Harvard’s School of Public Health, the average American consumes 22 teaspoons of added sugar a day, so complying with WHO’s recommendation would require a drastic reduction. A single can of a non-diet soft drink typically contains more sugar (30 g) than would be allowed under the 5% recommendation for an entire day (25 g), raising questions as to whether the 5% recommendation is a realistic target.