The Sugar Association (SA) expressed concern that the World Health Organization has not followed their own important principles thus far in the development of their Draft Guideline for sugars, released in March 2014.

In a letter to Margaret Chan, MD, director general of the WHO, SA raised serious concerns regarding whether the recommendations are based on a comprehensive and objective assessment of the available evidence, as well as concerns regarding transparency, and encouraged her to ensure WHO’s principles are upheld prior to the release of the final guideline.

“The Draft Guideline fails to acknowledge that previous comprehensive reviews by authoritative bodies (the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the Institute of Medicine (IOM) on this topic exist. Of importance is that in both instances, the evidence was deemed insufficient to set an upper intake recommendation for dietary sugars,” the letter states.

The letter also notes that objectivity is called into question when the findings of the two commissioned systematic reviews were overstated in the translation of the evidence into guidelines.

Finally, the letter points out that one of the charges of the Guidelines Review Council (GRC) is to ensure transparency in the guideline development process. However, thus far there have been elements of the process that have made it cumbersome, or even impossible, for the public to engage in or view the process.

“We suggest that the Draft Guideline be reviewed in light of the WHO’s own procedures to ensure that the Handbook1 principles are upheld. The WHO is a powerful and highly respected voice; the implications of such guidance have significant impact not only on public health, but also to multiple sectors of the global economic landscape, particularly in developing countries,” the letter concludes.

To view the letter in its entirety, click here.

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