Curbing global sugar consumption

Effective food policy actions to help promote healthy diets & tackle obesity

Globally, the number of people overweight or obese has reached epidemic proportions fuelling the growing rates of non-communicable diseases including – according to our analysis of global research – 11 cancers. Excessive sugar consumption is one factor promoting overweight and obesity.

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) sugar guideline (PDF), issued in March 2015, recommends that adults and children restrict free sugars to less than 10% of total daily energy intake, which is the equivalent of around 12.5 teaspoons of sugar for adults, and suggests a further reduction to below 5% of total daily energy intake for additional benefits.

To help countries meet the WHO sugar Guideline, we have created a policy brief – Curbing global sugar consumption (PDF) – to assist governments in reducing the amount of sugar being consumed at a population level. The brief provides examples of effective, evidence-informed policies that governments can use to reduce the availability and affordability of sugar and sugary products, influence the acceptability of alternatives and raise awareness of the amount of sugar contained in products. Examples of policy actions which have had these effects include:

  • school nutrition standards in Queensland, Australia
  • a vending machine ban in France
  • a front-of-package symbol that led to product reformulation
  • soda taxes in France and Mexico
  • a programme targeting retail environments in New York City, USA
  • a programme promoting increased water consumption in schools in Hungary
  • school fruit and vegetable programmes in Netherlands and Norway
  • a healthy marketing campaign in Los Angeles County, USA
  • a comprehensive nutrition and health programme in France

> Download the sugar policy brief (PDF)