In addition, the organisation said that it is companies’ responsibility to reduce the availability of such products on market shelves.
People should get no more than 10% of their daily calories from free sugars, WHO recommended last week, calling it a major public health concern for many countries. Cutting intake to below 5% per would provide additional benefits, it had added.
The sugar industry had argued that sugars in isolation could not be blamed for obesity and that people needed to focus on a balance between calories and activity. (http://www.foodnavigator.com/Policy/WHO-releases-final-sugar-advice-for-children-and-adults)
In response, the WHO said: “It is also possible to limit the intake of free sugars if more products without added sugars are on the market and if marketing of sugar-rich products is reduced.”
Not a difficult target to meet: WHO
The organisation claimed its target was not difficult to meet and encouraged healthier food options for consumers. “It is possible to achieve the recommendations in this guideline while respecting national dietary customs, because a wide variety of whole and fresh foods are naturally low in sugars.
“Consumers can reduce their consumption of processed food and when they purchase and consume, they should read nutrition labels to understand the sugars content of the food they are consuming,” it said.
It further highlighted the need for public institutions to join the fight against sugar related diseases in children by focusing on necessary dietary changes. “Schools in the first place need to have products with reduced sugar content on their menus.”
Call for clearer labelling
International Diabetes Federation European Region communication officer Gaël Bassetto backed WHO and said that “there is now a growing body of evidence” that has found a direct link between processed food with high-level of sugars and obesity.
“There is also growing evidence showing that the industry’s aggressive marketing of unhealthy foods has contributed to this major public health crisis,” he added.
He said food labelling and low prices were also driving people to choose low nutrient, caloric food which contained too much added sugar. “Clear front-of-pack food labelling, product reformulation and tougher legislation on marketing of unhealthy foods –especially to children - are essential if we want to reverse the epidemic of diet-related diseases, including diabetes,” he said.