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Sugar recommendations in France

15 / 07 / 19

The French government agency - Agence nationale de sécurité sanitaire de l'alimentation, de l'environnement, et du travail (ANSES) (French Agency for food environmental and occupational health and safety) – has set new sugar intake recommendations for adults.

After commissioning a systematic literature review of evidence linking sugar consumption and health, a maximum intake of total sugars containing fructose (excludes lactose and galactose) of 100g a day was set, as well as not more than one sweetened beverage a day (giving preference to fruit juice).

The literature analysis revealed support for the following:

  • a link between sugar intake and total energy intake and body weight gain
  • a link between sugar intake and blood triglycerides independent of total energy intake, mediated by the fructose component of sucrose and observed at fructose intakes of >50g/day
  • associations between sugar intake and risk of diabetes/insulin resistance, cardiovascular diseases, Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) and hyperuricaemia (from prospective cohort studies).

How does this compare to WHO recommendations?

ANSES says that considering the distribution between added sugars and sugars naturally present (fruit and vegetables) in food in France, their recommendation is consistent with that of the WHO to limit free sugar intake to less than 10% total energy.

The French recommendations define total sugars as all fructose containing sugars and excludes lactose and galactose, while WHO Free Sugars are defined as added sugars of all types plus fruit juice and fruit juice concentrates.

To reduce the 20-30% of French adults who consume more than 100g total sugars a day, ANSES recommends:

  • Limiting availability of sweetened products in vending machines, especially in learning institutions (schools, universities etc)
  • Taking measures to limit incentive to consume sweet products (advertising, give-aways etc).

ANSES’ work on intense sweeteners (also known as artificial sweeteners) found they had no beneficial effects on weight control, blood glucose levels in people with diabetes or the incidence of type 2 diabetes. They recommend achieving reduced sugar intakes by reducing the overall sweetness of food and from an early age. They also advise artificially sweetened beverages should not be consumed as substitutes for water.

You can read the new ANSES advice on Sugar in Food here and access the research publication supporting it here

Do Australia and New Zealand meet the French recommendations?

Below is based on the most recent data available.

Total sugars:

Based on the 2011-12 Australian National Health Survey, total sugars intake in adults was 105g per day (90g in those aged 19 years and over), however this includes natural sugars such as lactose so a direct comparison cannot be made to the French recommendations. As dairy milk contributed 8.1% of total sugars, by deduction it may be estimated that Australia’s total fructose containing sugars intake is less than 100g. In New Zealand, according to the results from the National Nutrition Survey (NNS) 2008-9, total sugars in adults was 107g per day, and since this includes lactose, by similar reasoning is likely to be less than 100g.

Free sugars:

The figures we have for free sugars in Australia and New Zealand are significantly less than 100g a day, ie

  • Overall mean usual intake of free sugars for Australians aged 2 years and over is reported by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) as 60g a day
  • Overall median usual intake of free sugars for New Zealand adults was reported in the NNS as 57g a day.

Read more about Australia’s intake in an earlier article, ‘Sugar: how much is too much’.

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