Nutrition

Draft Guideline: Sugars intake for adults and children

The public consultation is now closed

sugars guideline cover
WHO/Christopher Black

Free sugars contribute to the overall energy density of diets. Ensuring energy balance is critical to maintaining healthy body weight and ensuring optimal nutrient intake.

There is increasing concern that consumption of free sugars, particularly in the form of sugar-sweetened beverages, may result in both reduced intake of foods containing more nutritionally adequate calories and an increase in total caloric intake, leading to an unhealthy diet, weight gain and increased risk of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs).

Also of great concern is the role free sugars play in the development of dental diseases, particularly dental caries. Dental diseases are the most prevalent NCDs globally and though great improvements in prevention and treatment have occurred in the last decades, dental diseases continue to cause pain, anxiety, functional limitation and social handicap through tooth loss, for large numbers of people worldwide. The treatment of dental diseases is expensive—costing between 5 and 10% of health budgets in industrialised countries—and would exceed the financial resources available for the whole of health care for children in the majority of lower-income countries.

The objective of this guideline is to provide recommendations on the consumption of free sugars to reduce the risk of NCDs in adults and children, with a particular focus on the prevention and control of weight gain and dental caries. When finalized, the recommendations in this guideline can be used by programme managers and policy planners to assess current intake of free sugars relative to a benchmark and develop measures to decrease intake of free sugars, where necessary, through public health interventions.

This draft guideline was developed in accordance with WHO’s procedures for evidence-informed guideline development. As part of this process, WHO Member States and all relevant stakeholders are invited to comment on the draft guideline. The public consultation will be open through 31 March 2014. During this time, the draft guideline will also undergo peer-review by an external expert group. Once the peer-review and public consultation are complete, the guideline will be finalized and reviewed by the WHO Guidelines Review Committee for final clearance prior to its official release.

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