By Reuters Staff
GENEVA (Reuters) - Adults and children must cut the amount of sugar they consume by as much as half in North America and Western Europe and even more in other areas to lower risk of obesity and tooth decay, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday.
New guidelines meant people should reduce the amount to less than 10% of their daily energy intake - or to about 50 grams or 12 teaspoons of sugar for adults, experts at the U.N. body told Reuters.
A cut to less than 5% would be even better, they added.
The WHO's recommendations to health ministries cover free sugars such as glucose and fructose, and sucrose or table sugar added to processed foods and drinks as well as sugar naturally present in honey, syrups and fruit juices.
The current average in North and Central America was 95 grams per adult per day, in South America about 130 grams, and in Western Europe about 101 grams, said Dr. Francesco Branca, Director of WHO's Department of Nutrition for Health and Development.
"A single can of sugar-sweetened soda contains up to 40 grams (around 10 teaspoons) of free sugar," the WHO said.
Evidence showed adults and children who consume less sugars have lower body weight, according to the announcement.
Current rates of sugar consumption varied widely according to age and area, it added. Intake in Europe ranged from about 7-8% of daily energy intake in Hungary and Norway to 16-17% in countries like Spain and Britain.
Data showed rates among children in Portugal were as high as 25% of daily energy intake.
"We have solid evidence that keeping intake of free sugars to less than 10% of total energy intake reduces the risk of overweight, obesity and tooth decay," Branca said in a statement.