Just try sugar-coating this: The World Health Organization says your daily sugar intake should be just 5% of your total calories—half of what the agency previously recommended, according to new draft guidelines published yesterday. That includes sugars added to foods and those present in honey, syrups, and fruit juices, but not those occurring naturally in fruits. After a review of about 9,000 studies, WHO's expert panel says dropping sugar intake to that level will combat obesity and cavities.
Dr. Francesco Branca, WHO's director for nutrition, conceded the new target was somewhat aspirational. "We should aim for 5% if we can ... but 10% is more realistic," he said. WHO warned many of the sugars eaten today are hidden in processed foods, pointing out that one tablespoon of ketchup contains about one teaspoon of sugar and that for some people, including children, drinking a single can of sweetened soda would already exceed their daily sugar limit. Americans and others in the West eat a lot of sugar: Their average sugar intake would have to drop by two-thirds to meet WHO's suggested limit. (Soon, food labels will make added sugars more obvious.)