Just how much sugar is too much? WHO answers


  • Just how much sugar is too much? The World Health Organization (WHO) says not more than 12 teaspoons a day. Overload of sugar in diet is known to cause weight gain, which is is now being linked to higher risk of diseases from diabetes to some forms of cancer.
  • Doctors add that sugar naturally present in whole fruits and milk is not considered free sugars. Fruits are relatively high in natural sugar but are also high in vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants.
  • Fruits and vegetables offer more nutrients than any other food group. Thus, it is advisable to consume at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. The WHO has noted that a large amount of free sugar consumed is “hidden” in processed foods and drinks.
  • A maximum of 12 teaspoons of free sugars is recommended by the WHO a day for both adults and children. This includes sugars added to foods and beverages by the manufacturer or cook, and sugars naturally present in honey, syrups and fruit juices.

Solid food versus liquids

  • Meanwhile, evidence suggests that calories from liquids leads to weight gain more than calories from solid food.
  • The body breaks down sugars in solid foods slower as opposed to energy in fluids, resulting in large amounts of nutrient-poor calories in sugary drinks being consumed quickly and thus not providing the same feeling of fullness as solid foods.
  • “Overweight and obesity — starting in childhood — are linked to several non-communicable diseasessuch as type-2 diabetes, heart diseases, stroke and hypertension.


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