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WHO: We Need to Cut Sugar Intake by Half

Sugary drink The World Health Organization (WHO) is in the process of revising its guidelines on sugar intake, and it is cutting the recommended daily dosage in half. With diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and tooth decay on the rise, sugar consumption is a growing public health problem. It is now more important than ever for people to remove excess sugar from their diets.

How Much Sugar Is Recommended?

In 2002, WHO formally recommended that sugars make up less than 10 percent of a person’s daily caloric intake.  However, in light of advances in our understanding of sugar consumption — and its effects on the body based on scientific studies — the WHO will soon officially recommend half that amount. In other words, the new guideline will suggest that people reduce their sugar consumption to below 5 percent of their total daily calories.

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What Does This Guideline Mean?

For the average adult, five percent of total calories would amount to about six teaspoons of sugar — LESS than what can be found in a single can of sugar-sweetened soda, which often contains up to 40 grams of sugar (ouch!). It goes without saying that many Americans vastly exceed this recommendation on a daily basis, consuming dangerous amounts of the sweet stuff.

The problem is, free sugar is often added to foods by manufacturers and cooks, in addition to just naturally being present in foods such as fruit juices, honey, and syrups, leaving most people unaware of their daily sugar consumption.

What Should You Do?

To put it simply, it is time to cut back. However, because much of the sugars that we consume are ‘hidden’ in processed foods such as soup, bread, ketchup, yogurt, cereal, and many, many more, it can be challenging to meet this requirement. With that reality in mind, it is more important than ever to educate yourself about the amount of sugar in the foods you eat, and carefully consider the nutrition labels on the foods and beverages you purchase.  Fortunately, the Food and Drug Administration is in the early stages of a process that would make these labels easier to read by pointing out the amounts of added sugars in a product. Nevertheless, we all must take responsibility for our sugar consumption. For example, purchasing less processed foods, and consuming more natural foods, is a great way to eliminate much of these ‘hidden’ sugars. Regardless of the approach, the important thing is to take the necessary steps to reduce your sugar intake.


Derek is a technical writer and editor with 10 years of experience in the health care field, having first earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Delaware. He is a contributing author on a number of textbooks in the medical field, ran a nuclear cardiology licensing course, and has written a variety of other pieces from online training courses to medical software manuals. Derek pursues his personal interest in health and wellness by playing multiple sports and running marathons. An insatiable traveler, he spent 16 months working and living abroad while traveling through South America, Europe, and Southeast Asia.


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