Digestive Care Expert Brenda Watson

World Health Organization’s Recommendations to Cut Sugar Intake in Half Aren’t Enough

In a new dietary proposal, the World Health Organization (WHO) is advising that sugar intakes drop from 10 percent of total calories to 5 percent. They base their recommendations on two papers that found added sugars increase body mass index (BMI), and diets that reduce added sugar consumption to less than 5 percent reduce dental cavities.

“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 non-communicable diseases [chronic disease].” The recommendation has not officially accepted but is in the proposal state.

I applaud the WHO for tightening up their recommendations on added sugar intake. Reducing sugar intake is a step in the right direction. But honestly, I believe that added sugar has no place in a healthy diet. Overconsumption of sugary foods, along with foods high in refined and starchy carbohydrates, are a major—if not the major—contributor to chronic disease. And if you have ever experienced sugar cravings (who hasn’t?), you know that there is a fine line between “just one bite” and “just ate the whole cake/pint of ice cream/box of cookies.

If you’ve checked your local grocery store lately, you will see that we have a long way to go before added sugar no longer laces many of the foods available for purchase. In the meantime, we can all make the right choices for ourselves. Read the labels of the foods you buy. Try to eat foods that are very low in sugar and that do not contain sugar (or its many derivatives) in the ingredient list.


Written by Brenda Watson

Brenda Watson is among the foremost authorities in America today on natural digestive care, herbal cleansing and nutrition. A dynamic health advocate, best-selling author and celebrated PBS-TV health educator, Brenda overcame her own battle with chronic illness and has since helped millions of people improve their well-being through optimal digestion and nutrition. She continues to share her knowledge with the world through her books, online media, and radio and television appearances.Sign up today in the right sidebar to receive Brenda’s Healthy Living eNewsletter full of do-it-yourself tips, recipes, and exclusive offers!

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  • Sarah

    Since Valentine’s Day, my husband and I have lowered our added sugar consumption to the American Heart Association’s recommendation of 24g/day for women, and 36g/day for men.

    Although I’ve always known that “too much sugar is bad”, having that number to strive for made the change tangible, and therefore possible. Having that number enabled me to tally what I typically ate on a normal day, and on a bad day, and realize that 24g was 1/3 of what had been normal for me, and a TENTH of what I used to binge on when overtired, stressed, or at a party.

    In the first six weeks, I dropped 10 pounds (I was already thought of as ‘thin’ by most of my friends) and my husband dropped 40. We changed nothing else about our lives. I’m hoping to get off high blood pressure medication, too.

    Unlike other diet efforts, we’ve noticed a change in our tastes post-sugar-drop which has made social eating occasions MUCH easier. If I eat a dessert that contains the full 24g of sugar at once (an eighth of a cup), it will taste too sweet, and I will get an immediate, horrible headache. End of ‘sweet tooth’! I scrape off frostings, and cakes are sometimes still too sweet, but it’s okay, because I can tell immediately, and toss the whole thing without any regrets whatsoever.

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