A new study has identified 45 negative health outcomes associated with high consumption of added sugar. The research, which reviewed 73 meta-analyses, found that a diet high in free sugars, including those added during food processing, packaged as table sugar, and naturally occurring in juice, purees, and similar products, is linked with increased risks of conditions including diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and cancer. However, evidence of a link between free sugar and cancer is limited and controversial, and requires further research. The study also found that participants with the highest consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages had higher body weight than those with the lowest intake.
The research supports existing guidance from the World Health Organization, World Cancer Research Fund, and American Institute for Cancer Research, which suggest that people limit their free sugar intake to less than 25 grams per day. To reduce sugar consumption, the authors of the study recommend a combination of widespread public health education and policies worldwide. However, individuals can make changes themselves by reading nutrition labels, opting for water sweetened with fruit slices instead of sugary drinks, and cooking and baking at home more often. Gradually cutting back on sugar can also help train taste buds to crave less sugar.
The report has been welcomed by health experts. Dr. Maya Adam, director of Health Media Innovation and clinical assistant professor of pediatrics at Stanford University School of Medicine, called the study a "useful overview of the current state of the science on sugar consumption and our health." Dr. Linda Van Horn, professor emeritus of preventive medicine at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, confirmed that dietary sugar intake in the US is more than twice the recommended amount, and replacing sugar with more nutritious foods can have a positive impact on health. CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen called for patients to cut out excess sugar, such as sugar-sweetened beverages, for a marked and positive improvement to health.