NZBC Statement: WHO recommended sugar intake guidelines

Auckland: 4 March 2015

The New Zealand Beverage Council has today responded to the WHO’s announcement that the daily recommended sugar intake be further reduced to below 5% for 'additional health benefits', saying "calls for wide-ranging measures limiting the intake of fruit Juice are misdirected and will not, we believe, achieve the admirable goals intended."

"While we understand the WHO is well intentioned in trying bring about behavior change to address obesity, recommendations such as these will do little more than focus on one contributor, fail to place sugar into the context of overall diet, confuse people and fail to make the desired difference to consumer eating patterns.

Obesity is a complex issue and focusing on added sugars as the primary contributor to obesity overlooks many other factors. Foods and beverages containing sugars can have a place in a sensible, balanced diet when combined with regular physical activity.

Numerous respected scientific bodies, including the WHO, have recognised that the fundamental cause of obesity and overweight is an energy imbalance between calories (kilojoules) consumed and calories expended1. These recently released guidelines for action do not address the multi-causal issue of obesity.

The New Zealand non-alcoholic beverage industry has long recognised it has a role to play, along with other stakeholders, in addressing the complex and multi-factorial issues of overweight and obesity.

The industry has taken significant measures to provide consumers with more options and information to allow informed dietary choices through developing reformulated products to offer low and no-sugar varieties, voluntarily displaying kilojoule information on the front of labels and restricting sales of regular kilojoule soft drinks in schools.

"As an industry we are taking significant action through innovation, reformulation and other initiatives to adapt to the changing lifestyles of New Zealanders. Whether it is more informative packaging, new product sizes, or the introduction of additional low or no kilojoule options, we are consistently working to provide products that allow consumers to make choices that are right for them and their families," the Council said.

"We believe these measures, in concert with activity undertaken by other groups genuinely interested in working collaboratively to draw attention to the need for a well-balanced, active and healthy lifestyle are having a positive effect."

1 World Health Organization (WHO). Fact Sheet on Overweight and Obesity. Accessed 15 May 2014.

•Free sugars include "monosaccharides and disaccharides added to foods and beverages by the manufacturer, cook or consumer, and sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and juice concentrates". The rationale for these recommendations is that reducing free sugars, as defined above, reduces the risk of overweight, obesity and tooth decay.
•The WHO Guideline doesn’t refer to the sugars in fresh fruits and vegetables, because according to WHO "there is no reported evidence of adverse effects on consuming those sugars".
•Fruit juices do not represent a major source of sugar intake
•The sugars in fruit juice are not different, metabolically or nutritionally from those found in whole fruit
•This means that WHO discriminates its own "five-a-day" campaign.

- ends.

For further information email or contact:

Olly Munro (President, NZBC) on 021-611656
Peter Heath on 021-456353

© The New Zealand Beverage Council (Inc.), 2015.

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