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World Health Organization cuts recommended daily sugar intake by half

The World Health Organization has drafted a new guideline regarding daily sugar intake to just 5 percent of total calories.

Five percent of total energy intake equals around 25 grams or 6 teaspoons of sugar daily for an adult of normal Body Mass Index (BMI).

The global health agency says getting daily sugar intake to below five per cent is the target, but also reiterated that sugar should account for no more that 10 percent of total energy intake.

Dr Francesco Branca, WHO's nutrition director, said in a news conference in Geneva, that the 10% target was a "strong recommendation" while the 5% target was "conditional" based on current scientific evidence, and "We should aim for 5% if we can."

The suggested limits would apply to all monosaccharides (such as glucose, fructose) and disaccharides (such as sucrose or table sugar) as well as all sugars added to food.

After a review of about 9,000 studies, WHO's expert panel found high sugar consumption is strongly linked to obesity and tooth decay.

Branca also added that sugar is a health risk factor which, combined with others like fat, salt and lack of exercise, could be compared to smoking.

The WHO also warned about "sugars that we don't see,” as people don't realize much sugar is "hidden" in processed foods.

"It's sometimes in condiments, sauce added to meats, a tablespoon of ketchup has up to seven grams of sugar [and] sweetened yogurt up to six grams," said Branca.

Earlier this week, Britain's chief medical officer, Dr. Sally Davies said a that the government should consider introducing a sugar tax to help curb child and adult obesity.

She said being overweight had become "normalised" in the UK and the Government should regulate the food and drinks industry to protect people against the dangers of excess calorie consumption.

WHO's new guidelines have been published online and the agency is inviting the public to comment via its website through March 31, 2014.

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