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US sugar intake guidelines based on weak evidence

A new systematic review led by McMaster University has found that the recommendations for limiting sugar intake are based on low quality evidence, has been published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Some of these recommendations have come from organisations such as the World Health Organization and the US Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The researchers are quick to point out that these findings do not justify increased consumption of nutrient poor and energy dense foods. Official caps on daily sugar intake vary widely between organisations and this has led to confusion over what the actual recommendations should be, and also raises concerns about the quality of each guideline.

This team of researchers were hoping to assess the robustness of research that underpins these guidelines; they found many problems such as the inclusion of imprecise studies, and uncontrolled studies which are prone to bias. They also found a discrepancy amongst the types of outcomes that each study was measuring – such as tooth decay, and nutrient displacement – which are of less importance to the general public; obesity and diabetes may have been better outcomes to measure. Dr Behnam Sadeghirad, co-first author, stated that there does not appear to be any reliable evidence at this time that indicated the recommendations for sugar intake are associated with negative health effects. Hopefully, the results of this study will highlight the need for improved robustness and validity when developing guidelines.


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