Vitality

Dietary Guidelines For Added Sugars Must Drop To Prevent Type 2 Diabetes Epidemic, Experts Say

dietary guidelines
Doctors propose drastic reductions in the amount of added sugar we consume: a reduction from 25 percent of total daily calories to just five percent. U.S. Department of Agriculture

In the United States, one in 11 adults has type 2 diabetes, while another one in three has pre-diabetes. In a new study, clinical experts propose drastic reductions in the amount of added sugar, and especially added fructose, people consume. Specifically, they wish to reduce the current dietary guidelines for added sugars from 25 percent of total daily calories to just five percent.

“There is no need for added fructose or any added sugars in the diet; reducing intake to five percent of total calories… has been shown to improve glucose tolerance in humans and decrease the prevalence of diabetes and the metabolic derangements that often precede and accompany it,” wrote the authors in their study.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, a condition where your body does not use insulin properly and so causes blood glucose (sugar) levels to rise higher than normal. Worldwide, nearly one in 10 adults has type 2 diabetes and these numbers are rising swiftly; the total number of afflicted individuals doubled from 153 million in 1980 to 347 million in 2008. The United States alone contains 29 million adults with type 2 diabetes and another 86 million diagnosed as pre-diabetic.

Past studies have provided clear data showing that added sugars, particularly those containing fructose, are a principal driver of diabetes and pre-diabetes, even more so than other carbohydrates. Added sugars also raise cardiovascular (CV) risk.

Conversely, whole foods that contain fructose (e.g., fruits and vegetables) pose no problem to your health, and scientists believe they may even be protective against diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Other dietary sugars not containing fructose also seem to be less detrimental to your health.

Under the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, it is acceptable to consume up to 19 percent of calories from added sugars, while the Institute of Medicine permits up to 25 percent.

"At current levels, added-sugar consumption, and added-fructose consumption in particular, are fueling a worsening epidemic of type 2 diabetes," Dr. James J. DiNicolantonio, lead author and a cardiovascular research scientist at Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute, stated in a release.

In contrast to commonly accepted American guidelines, the World Health Organization recommends no more than 10 percent, with a proposal to lower this level to five percent or less. Taking these stricter limitations into account, DiNicolantonio and his co-authors recommend a reduction in dietary sugar allowances. Aligning themselves with the proposals of the American Heart Association, the authors suggest women consume no more than 6 teaspoons (24 grams) of sugar per day and men no more than nine teaspoons (36 grams) of sugar per day.

Source: DiNicolantonio JJ, O’Keefe JH, Lucan SC. Added Fructose A Principal Driver of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus and Its Consequences. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2015.

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