New position statement provides guidance on sugar consumption
Ottawa — The Heart and Stroke Foundation today released a position statement proposing a maximum daily limit of added sugar to help Canadians improve their diets and their overall health. It is the first organization in the country to provide this concrete guidance.
Currently Canadians are eating too much of the sweet stuff, in all its forms. It is estimated that we are consuming more than 13 per cent of our total calorie intake from added sugars. The Foundation is recommending that Canadians limit their intake of added (or “free”) sugars to not more than 10 per cent or ideally less than 5 per cent of total calorie intake per day. Excess sugar consumption is linked to heart disease, stroke, obesity, diabetes, high blood cholesterol, cancer and cavities.
“The bottom line is that Canadians are eating too much added sugar, and this can result in serious health consequences,” says Bobbe Wood, President, Heart and Stroke Foundation. “Identifying a daily threshold for added sugar is a first step to helping all Canadians reduce how much sugar they consume, and will improve their diets overall.”
Added sugars are those added to foods and drinks and include glucose, fructose, sucrose, brown sugar, honey, corn syrup, maple syrup, molasses, fruit puree and juice etc. These sugars provide extra calories but few or no nutritional benefits. Fruit juice, either as a beverage or as a sweetener added to other foods, has less nutritional value than a piece of fruit and is high in sugar.
Added sugars do not include the sugars that are found naturally in foods such as vegetables, fruit, milk, grains and other plant-based foods (e.g., legumes and nuts).
To put the recommendation into context, for an average 2,000-calorie-a-day diet, 10 per cent is about 48 grams, or 12 teaspoons of sugar. Sugar-loaded beverages are the single greatest contributor of sugar in our diets with one can providing 40 grams, or 10 teaspoons of sugar. That’s roughly 85 per cent of the daily added sugar limit.
“We want Canadians to focus on reducing added sugars, not the sugar that occurs naturally in vegetables, fruit and other foods that are also packed with nutrients such as vitamins and fibre. You cannot compare those healthy choices to a can of pop that is loaded with sugar and has no health benefits – just health risks,” says Bobbe Wood.
The position statement includes recommendations for Canadians, all levels of government, workplaces, schools, researchers, health organizations and industry to help reduce added sugar consumption across the population.
The Foundation developed the position statement with input from a panel of national and international experts, and the recommendations are in line with draft guidelines released by the World Health Organization in March 2014.
Up to 80 per cent of early heart disease and stroke can be prevented by adopting healthy behaviours which include eating a healthy diet.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation’s mission is to prevent disease, save lives and promote recovery. A volunteer-based health charity, we strive to tangibly improve the health of every Canadian family, every day. Healthy lives free of heart disease and stroke. Together we will make it happen. heartandstroke.ca