March 4, 2015
TO: JPA Members
FROM: Patricia Faison
RE: JPA Regulatory Update: WHO Guidelines on Sugars Intake – Fruit Juices and Fruit Juice Concentrates Mentioned
In March 2014, JPA staff notified members that the World Health Organization (WHO) had published draft guidelines on sugars intake. In part, WHO maintained its current recommendation that sugars should make up less than 10 percent of total energy intake per day and also suggested that a reduction in sugars to less than 5 percent of total energy intake would provide additional benefits. WHO also noted the recommended limits on sugars applied to all monosaccharides (e.g., glucose, fructose) and disaccharides (e.g., sucrose, table sugar) that are added to foods by the manufacturer, the cook or the consumer, as well as sugars that are naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit concentrates. Such sugars were known as “free sugars.”
JPA staff, working with the JPA Nutrition Working Group, subsequently submitted comments to WHO expressing concern regarding the designation of fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates as “free sugars.”
Today, WHO issued a press release, available here, announcing release of the WHO guidelines, “Sugars intake for adults and children,” available here. WHO continues to recommend that the daily intake of free sugars should be less than 10 percent of total energy intake and a reduction to less than 5 percent per day would be beneficial. In addition, the Agency continues to define fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates as “free sugars.”
Free sugars include monosaccharides and disaccharides added to foods by the manufacturer, cook or consumer, and sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates.
According to WHO, free sugars are not the same as intrinsic sugars found in whole fresh fruits and vegetables, as no reported evidence associates intrinsic sugars to adverse health effects. The Agency notes the recommendations in the guideline do not apply to intrinsic sugars in these products.
WHO states the recommendations reflect the latest scientific evidence, which shows that adults who consume less sugars have lower body weight, and increasing sugar intake is associated with weight increase. Further, research has shown that children with high intakes of sugar-sweetened drinks are more likely to be obese or overweight compared to children with a low intake of such drinks. WHO also notes the recommendation is based on evidence that shows increased rates of tooth decay when free sugar intake is above 10 percent.
The Canadian Beverage Association (CBA) issued a press release, available here, expressing disappointment related to the recommendation to further lower free sugar intake below 5 percent of total energy intake. CBA notes the recommendation “does not reflect scientific agreement on the totality of evidence.”
JPA’s Nutrition Working Group will be reviewing the guidelines in the near future to determine if there are any next steps.
As always, please contact me with questions or comments.
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