WHO study lists why you need to tame your sweet cravings

  • Shobhan Singh, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Mar 13, 2015 22:34 IST

If you have been planning to cut down on your sugar consumption, here is one more reason to do so.

The World Health Organization (WHO), in a recently released guideline, has emphasised on the need for reducing sugar intake for a healthy lifestyle.

The guideline recommends adults and children to reduce their daily intake of free sugar to less than 10% of their total energy consumption. Apart from diabetes, this will also reduce the risk of obesity (which often leads to diabetes), tooth decay, non-communicable diseases, among others, WHO officials said.

A further reduction to below 5% or roughly 25 grams (six teaspoons) a day will provide additional health benefits, the guideline states.

Free sugars refer to monosaccharides (glucose, fructose) and disaccharides (sucrose or table sugar) added to foods and drinks, and sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates.

“We have solid evidence that keeping intake of free sugars to less than 10% of total energy intake reduces the risk of obesity and tooth decay,” said Dr Francesco Branca, director of WHO’s department of nutrition for health and development. “Making policy changes to support this will be key if countries are to live up to their commitments to reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases.”

While WHO has released a revised guideline now, doctors in India have long been advocating the need to cut down sugar consumption. Experts said as Indians have a predisposition to contract diabetes genetically, it is all the more important to follow a strict diet with minimum sugar.

“In multiple studies with Indian population, we have shown the need for bringing down carbohydrates and sugar consumption. Free sugar is unlimited source of energy. So, for those who do extreme physical labour, it is not that harmful. However, the lifestyle of most of us is largely sedentary, devoid of any physical activity, which can pose a risk,” said Dr Shashank Joshi, endocrinologist.

Diabetes remains one of the major challenges faced by the country’s medical fraternity. According to the WHO, at present, there are 3,17,05,000 diabetics in India. It predicts that the number will grow to 7,94,41,000 by 2030.

“Indians already have bad metabolism of liver and pancreas. Excess sugar makes our blood thicker. Hence, our sweets intake needs to cut down drastically,” said Dr Anoop Misra, chairman, Fortis CDOC Hospital for diabetes and metabolic disorder, Delhi.

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