EFSA confirms sugar consumption a risk factor in chronic diseases


Following a request to update a 2010 safety assessment from five Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden), EFSA undertook a comprehensive review of the scientific literature examining the link between sugar intake and the development of various diseases, including obesity, Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, gout and dental caries.

“This has been a hugely challenging work so far, involving the evaluation of over 30,000 publications. Our experts and staff have made an immense effort to reach this point and applied the highest standards of scientific rigour throughout,”​ Dr Valeriu Curtui, head of EFSA’s Nutrition Unit, said today following the publication of the organisation’s draft opinion.

EFSA had been specifically asked if it would be possible to set a science-based cut-off point―called a ‘tolerable upper intake level’ or ‘UL’ ―for total dietary sugars. Below this point, sugar consumption would not cause health problems.

“The UL is not a recommended level of intake. Rather, it is a scientifically derived ‘threshold’ below which the risk of adverse health effects for the general population is negligible, but above which the intake is proven to be linked to adverse health effects, including disease,”​ EFSA said.

To determine this level ‘requires the identification of a level of sugars intake up to which no adverse health effects are observed’. Such data was not available, meaning the food safety body’s experts were not able to determine a ‘safe’ level of sugar consumption.



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