Numerous studies have demonstrated the harmful effects of excessive sugar consumption on health, which has led to recommendations to keep added sugar consumption to less than 10% of a person’s daily caloric intake.
However, researchers in China and the United States felt that “quality of existing evidence needs to be comprehensively evaluated” prior to developing detailed policies for sugar restriction.
High added sugar consumption was linked to significantly higher risks of 45 adverse health outcomes, including diabetes, gout, obesity, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, cancer, asthma, tooth decay, depression, and early death, according to a large review of 73 meta-analyses that included 8,601 studies.
According to the US Food and Drug Administration, free sugars are those that are added when foods are processed, packaged as table sugar and other sweeteners, and naturally present in syrups, honey, fruit juice, vegetable juice, purees, pastes, and similar products where the cellular structure of the food has been broken down.
Sugars that are present naturally in dairy products or structurally whole fruits and vegetables are not included in this category.
Dr. Maya Adam, director of Health Media Innovation and clinical assistant professor of pediatrics at Stanford University School of Medicine, said the study “provides a useful overview of the current state of the science on sugar consumption and our health” and “confirms that eating too much sugar is likely to cause problems.” Adam wasn’t a part of the investigation.
“Studies like this are helpful in advising patients that seemingly small changes, like cutting out excess sugar like sugar-sweetened beverages, can have a marked and positive improvement to health,” said Dr. Leana Wen, a CNN Medical Analyst and professor of public health at George Washington University who wasn’t involved in the study.
The participants who consumed the most sugar-sweetened beverages had higher body weights than those who consumed the least, according to moderately reliable evidence.
“I can confirm that dietary sugar intake in the US is more than twice the recommended level (less than 10% of total daily caloric intake), and while the direct impact of sugar itself offers minimal, if any, nutritional benefits, it further replaces foods that do,” said Linda Van Horn, professor emeritus of preventive medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. Van Horn did not take part in the research.