The World Health Organization Speaks Out Against Sugar

Excerpt from Death by Modern Medicine pp. 256-258

I was joined in condemning a high-sugar diet on April 23, 2003, by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) On that day, the FAO and WHO revealed an independent expert report titled “Diet, Nutrition, and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases.”
The report examines cardiovascular diseases, several forms of cancer, diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, and dental disease as the result of poor lifestyle and diet. The report acknowledges that the burden of chronic diseases is rapidly increasing. Statistics from 2001 reveal that chronic disease contributed approximately 59 percent of the 56.5 million total reported deaths in the world and 46 percent of the global burden of disease.

The experts who wrote the report feel that a diet low in sugars, salt, and saturated fats and high in vegetables and fruits, together with regular physical activity, can have a major impact on combating this high toll of death and disease. They focused special attention on added sugars and determined that a healthy diet should contain no more than 10 percent.

Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, director-general of WHO, said:

“We have known for a long time that foods high in saturated fats, sugars, and salt are unhealthy; that we are, globally, increasing our intake of energy-dense, nutritionally poor food as our lives become increasingly sedentary; and that these factors–together with tobacco use–are the leading causes of the great surge we have seen in the incidence of chronic diseases. What is new is that we are laying down the foundation for a global policy response.”

No other agency has set such a low limit for the intake of sugar. In the United States, in spite of the fact that 60 percent of the population is obese, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans only advise that sugar should be used in moderation. Even worse, the Institute of Medicine, part of the US National Academy of Sciences, indulges Americans with a whopping 25 percent of their calories from added sugar.

The major objection to any recommendations for reducing sugar comes from the sugar industry. Presently they are in a huge debate with WHO. The industry denies that sugar is the cause of any form of chronic disease and says that the solution to obesity is—more exercise. The US National Soft Drink Association’s stated position is that a 10 percent limit on sugar should not be included in the WHO plan.

They publicly claim that the scientific literature does not show an association between sugar intake and obesity. In a blatant attempt to derail implementation of the Diet and Nutrition Report, the sugar industry is lobbying the US government to withhold funding from the UN and WHO if it goes ahead with its recommendations.

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Written by Carolyn Dean

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