Added and free sugars should be as low as possible

EFSA’s scientists have completed their comprehensive safety assessment of sugars in the diet and their potential links to health problems. The opinion’s rich findings will support national public health authorities in Europe update future advice for their consumers.

Prof. Dominique Turck is the Chair of EFSA’s panel of nutrition experts who carried out the assessment. He stated: “We concluded that intakes of added and free sugars should be as low as possible as part of a nutritionally adequate diet; this is in line with current recommendations. However, the scientific evidence did not allow us to set a tolerable upper intake level for dietary sugars, which was the original goal of this assessment.”

Our diet includes different categories and sources of sugars, which can be naturally occurring or added. ‘Added sugars’ are refined sugars used in food preparation and as table sugar. ‘Free sugars’ includes ‘added sugars’ plus those naturally present in honey and syrups, as well as in fruit and vegetable juices and juice concentrates. ‘Total sugars’ are all sugars present in the diet, including those naturally present in fruit, vegetables, and milk.

Feedback helped finalise the opinion

Valuable input received during last year’s public consultation on a draft version of the opinion allowed our scientists to refine and clarify important aspects of their work.

Prof. Turck said: “We underlined there are uncertainties about chronic disease risk for people whose consumption of added and free sugars is below 10% of their total energy intake. This is due to the scarcity of studies at doses in this range.

“Data limitations also meant it was not possible to compare the effects of sugars classified as added or free, overall.”

To read the blog, visit EFSA's website: Added and free sugars should be as low as possible

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