The Recommended Daily Added Sugar Intake

The Recommended Daily Added Sugar Intake
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Public health authorities continue to drop the upper tolerable limit of daily added sugar intake.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Dating back to the original Dietary Goals for the United States in 1977—the so-called McGovern Report— leading nutrition scientists were not only calling for a reduction in meat and other sources of saturated fat and cholesterol, like dairy and eggs, but also sugar. The goal was to reduce America’s sugar intake down to no more than 10% of the daily diet.

“The final conclusions would hang sugar,” reported the President of the Sugar Association. “The McGovern Report has to be neutralized….” Don’t worry, though, we have the National Cattlemen’s Association on our side, and, like Big Sugar, they appealed to the Senate Select Committee to withdraw the report.

“The Sugar Industry Empire” striking back appeared to work. When the official dietary guidelines were released in 1980, and then again in ‘85, no specific limit like 10%, just the vague “avoid too much sugar,” whatever that means. By ‘95 it got even vaguer: “Choose a diet moderate in sugars.” In 2000, they were at least back to “limit,” but even that was too strong. Under pressure from sugar lobbyists, they went back to “moderate your intake of sugars” before the 2005 guidelines committee dropped the s-word completely, encouraging Americans: “Choose carbohydrates wisely,” whatever that means. If only there were some kind of dietary guidelines committee that could give us guidance.

The Sugar Association expressed optimism about that 2005 Committee. The Sugar Association Incorporated is “committed to the protection and promotion of [table sugar] consumption,” and they will not allow for the “disparagement of sugar.” And, they’re not kidding. In 2003, the World Health Organization released a report “Diet, nutrition and the prevention of chronic diseases,” which, for the first time since the McGovern Report, called for a reduction in sugar intake to under 10%. The Sugar Association responded by threatening to get the U.S. to withdraw all funding from the WHO. Here it is, in black and white. The Sugar Association threatening to pressure Congress to withdraw funding from the World Health Organization––polio vaccinations and AIDS medications be damned; you just don’t mess with the candy man. The threat was described as “tantamount to blackmail and worse than any pressure [they had experienced from Big Tobacco].”

But now, 15 years later, and 40 years after the first proposed McGovern Report, the current 2015 to 2020 Dietary Guidelines lay out as a key recommendation the 10% limit, currently exceeded by every age bracket in the United States, starting at age one, with adolescents averaging 87 grams of sugar a day––meaning the average teen is effectively eating 29 sugar packets a day.

The Sugar Association describes the 10% limit as “extremely low,” I mean, only like up to a dozen spoonfuls a day. But, of course, there’s no dietary requirement for added sugar at all, and every single calorie we get from added sugar is a wasted opportunity to get calories from sources that actually provide nutrition. To the American Heart Association’s credit, they went further trying to push added sugar intake down to about 6% of calories, for which a single can of soda could send you over the limit…an added sugar limit exceeded by 90% of Americans.

In 2017 the American Heart Association released their guidelines for children, recommending they get no more than about six teaspoons per day, which means there’s nearly a hundred cereals on the U.S. market for which a single serving exceeded the entire recommended daily limit. And the heart association recommends no added sugars at all under age two. Small toddlers are to avoid added sugars altogether, a recommendation that’s violated… in up to 80% of toddlers.

The U.S. is one of at least 65 countries that have implemented dietary guidelines or policies to curb sugar consumption. In the UK, the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition made new recommendations to reduce added sugars down to 5%, which is the direction the World Health Organization is headed as well. They always seem to be ahead of the curve. Why? Because their policy-making process is at least partially protected from industry influence. Unlike governments, which may have competing interests in commerce and trade, the World Health Organization is exclusively concerned with health.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: Doris Jungo via pixabay. Image has been modified.

Video production by Glass Entertainment.

Motion graphics by Avocado Video.

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Dating back to the original Dietary Goals for the United States in 1977—the so-called McGovern Report— leading nutrition scientists were not only calling for a reduction in meat and other sources of saturated fat and cholesterol, like dairy and eggs, but also sugar. The goal was to reduce America’s sugar intake down to no more than 10% of the daily diet.

“The final conclusions would hang sugar,” reported the President of the Sugar Association. “The McGovern Report has to be neutralized….” Don’t worry, though, we have the National Cattlemen’s Association on our side, and, like Big Sugar, they appealed to the Senate Select Committee to withdraw the report.

“The Sugar Industry Empire” striking back appeared to work. When the official dietary guidelines were released in 1980, and then again in ‘85, no specific limit like 10%, just the vague “avoid too much sugar,” whatever that means. By ‘95 it got even vaguer: “Choose a diet moderate in sugars.” In 2000, they were at least back to “limit,” but even that was too strong. Under pressure from sugar lobbyists, they went back to “moderate your intake of sugars” before the 2005 guidelines committee dropped the s-word completely, encouraging Americans: “Choose carbohydrates wisely,” whatever that means. If only there were some kind of dietary guidelines committee that could give us guidance.

The Sugar Association expressed optimism about that 2005 Committee. The Sugar Association Incorporated is “committed to the protection and promotion of [table sugar] consumption,” and they will not allow for the “disparagement of sugar.” And, they’re not kidding. In 2003, the World Health Organization released a report “Diet, nutrition and the prevention of chronic diseases,” which, for the first time since the McGovern Report, called for a reduction in sugar intake to under 10%. The Sugar Association responded by threatening to get the U.S. to withdraw all funding from the WHO. Here it is, in black and white. The Sugar Association threatening to pressure Congress to withdraw funding from the World Health Organization––polio vaccinations and AIDS medications be damned; you just don’t mess with the candy man. The threat was described as “tantamount to blackmail and worse than any pressure [they had experienced from Big Tobacco].”

But now, 15 years later, and 40 years after the first proposed McGovern Report, the current 2015 to 2020 Dietary Guidelines lay out as a key recommendation the 10% limit, currently exceeded by every age bracket in the United States, starting at age one, with adolescents averaging 87 grams of sugar a day––meaning the average teen is effectively eating 29 sugar packets a day.

The Sugar Association describes the 10% limit as “extremely low,” I mean, only like up to a dozen spoonfuls a day. But, of course, there’s no dietary requirement for added sugar at all, and every single calorie we get from added sugar is a wasted opportunity to get calories from sources that actually provide nutrition. To the American Heart Association’s credit, they went further trying to push added sugar intake down to about 6% of calories, for which a single can of soda could send you over the limit…an added sugar limit exceeded by 90% of Americans.

In 2017 the American Heart Association released their guidelines for children, recommending they get no more than about six teaspoons per day, which means there’s nearly a hundred cereals on the U.S. market for which a single serving exceeded the entire recommended daily limit. And the heart association recommends no added sugars at all under age two. Small toddlers are to avoid added sugars altogether, a recommendation that’s violated… in up to 80% of toddlers.

The U.S. is one of at least 65 countries that have implemented dietary guidelines or policies to curb sugar consumption. In the UK, the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition made new recommendations to reduce added sugars down to 5%, which is the direction the World Health Organization is headed as well. They always seem to be ahead of the curve. Why? Because their policy-making process is at least partially protected from industry influence. Unlike governments, which may have competing interests in commerce and trade, the World Health Organization is exclusively concerned with health.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: Doris Jungo via pixabay. Image has been modified.

Video production by Glass Entertainment.

Motion graphics by Avocado Video.

Doctor's Note

I recently spoke at a hearing of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Committee. Watch the highlights and my speech here: Highlights from the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Hearing.

The sugar industry keeps pretty busy, as you’ll see from my recent videos: Are Fortified Kids’ Breakfast Cereals Healthy or Just Candy? and Sugar Industry Attempts to Manipulate the Science.

My other popular videos on sugar are:

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

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