Americans urged to slash sugar intake

Soft drinks are one source of added sugar in the American diet. The new dietary guidelines say that lowering added sugar can reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.
Soft drinks are one source of added sugar in the American diet. The new dietary guidelines say that lowering added sugar can reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.PHOTO: REUTERS

Latest guidelines also warn that men and teenage boys are consuming too much protein

MIAMI • New US federal dietary guidelines urge Americans to drastically cut back on sugar, echoing advice from the World Health Organisation and other groups which have cited evidence that lowering added sugar could reduce the risk of obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer.

Less than 10 per cent of calories for adults should come from added sugars put in packaged foods and sodas, and also less than 10 per cent from saturated fats, according to the new guidelines from the departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services. Sodium consumption should be limited to 2,300mg a day - or one teaspoon.

Longstanding limits on dietary cholesterol were removed, a victory for the nation's egg producers who have long argued that cholesterol from eggs and seafood is not a major health concern.

 

Typically the guidelines, first issued in 1980 and updated every five years, have encouraged Americans to consume more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meat and low-fat foods, while restricting their intake of saturated fat, trans fats and dietary cholesterol.

This year, the advice to cut back on sugar may lead to changes in food nutrition labels. The Food and Drug Administration has already proposed labels that would require food and beverage firms to disclose the amount of added sugar.

Lean meat, the subject of intense industry lobbying, is recommended as part of a healthy diet in the latest guidelines, but the biggest surprise is the conclusion that teenage boys and men are generally consuming too much protein. As a result, the guidelines recommend that men and boys "reduce their overall intake of protein foods" such as meat, poultry and eggs and add more vegetables to their diets.

Eating less red meat is linked to a lower risk of heart disease and stroke, as well as a lower risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer, the guidelines say.

About half of all US adults have one or more preventable chronic diseases relating to poor diets and physical inactivity, such as hypertension, diabetes and diet-related cancers, according to the government.

NEW YORK TIMES, BLOOMBERG, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 09, 2016, with the headline 'Americans urged to slash sugar intake'. Print Edition | Subscribe