In March 2014 the World Health Organization (WHO) published draft guidelines on sugar consumption, recommending that the intake of free sugars should be reduced in both adults and children, and should account for less than 10% of total calorie intake, and proposing that a reduction to below 5% of total energy intake per day would have additional benefits.
In an article in the spring 2014 issue of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) newsletter Dr Nita Forouhi, who leads the Unit’s Nutritional Epidemiology programme, welcomes these recommendations, but argues that while we work towards the goal of reducing sugar intake we must not lose sight of the other important dietary, environmental and behavioural factors that also have a profound effect on the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Potentially reducing sugar intake should be a “win, win” situation. It would have many health benefits, including preventing and reducing dental caries, levels of obesity, preventing weight gain, and contributing to the prevention of type 2 diabetes. It is also likely to have beneficial effects for coronary heart disease.
But, we should remember that to consider sugar alone is reductionist. Reducing sugar intake is important to tackle, but we must place it in context that it is one component of the overall risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Increasing age, family history, ethnicity, body weight and obesity, levels of physical activity, socio-economic factors and overall diet are all factors that will impact on the risk of diabetes.
Read the full article in the IDF newsletter here.
Credit: The District