The Sugar Association appreciates the World Health Organization’s (WHO) efforts to address obesity and dental caries around the world.

However, WHO’s “strong” recommendations regarding sugars intake are not backed by “strong” evidence, a fact acknowledged by the organization itself, albeit in small print. The report footnotes reveal that the quality of evidence supporting the recommendations is “moderate,” “low,” and “very low” and indicate the evidence proves a modest level of confidence, at best, that the recommendations will have the desired effect. This forces one to question how they derived these “strong” recommendations. Unfortunately, this is a documented pattern by WHO.

As we outlined in our filing with the WHO in March 2014, as well as in a letter to Dr. Margaret Chan, Director General, in September 2014, the preponderance of science and the data on caloric sweeteners do not support the suggested limit on sugars intake.

Overlooked by WHO is the fact that other organizations have considered intake limits with different conclusions: a report by the U.S. Institute of Medicine proclaimed there was no conclusive evidence to justify establishing an intake limit for “added sugars.” The European Food Safety Authority reaffirmed the same conclusion in 2010. Both of these substantial reviews were totally ignored by the WHO, again bringing into question the scientific basis for this misguided Guideline on Sugars.

In 2014, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also determined that the science does not support a quantitative intake recommendation for “added sugars” in its Proposed Rule, Food Labeling: Revision of the Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels, FDA-2010-N-1210.

This guideline misleads consumers by its use of poor-quality, weak and inconsistent data to link a level of sugars intake with reduced disease risk. Such a claim is serious, and requires high-quality data, particularly given the potential for consumer confusion and the likelihood that the economic impact to developing countries will be severe.

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