LONDON - New guidelines from the World Health Organization are enough to kill anyone's sugar high. The U.N. agency says the world is eating too much sugar and people should slash their intake to six to 12 teaspoons per day - an amount that could be exceeded with a single can of soda.
So, put down that doughnut. And while you're at it, skip the breakfast cereal, fruit juice, beer, and ketchup.
The guidelines, released Wednesday, finalize draft advice released last year and are focused on the added sugars in processed food, as well as those in honey, syrups, and fruit juices. The advice does not apply to naturally occurring sugars in fruit, vegetables, and milk, since those come with essential nutrients.
"We have solid evidence that keeping intake of [added] sugars to less than 10 percent of total energy intake reduces the risk of overweight, obesity and tooth decay," Francesco Branca, director of WHO's nutrition department, said.
To meet the lower threshold set by the new guidelines, Americans and others in the West would have to slash their average sugar intake by about two-thirds.
Americans get about 13 percent of calories from added sugar. In Europe, sugar intake ranges from about 7 percent in Hungary and Norway to nearly 25 percent in Portugal.
Some experts said the 10 percent target was more realistic for Western countries than the lower target. They said the 5 percent of daily calories figure was aimed mostly at developing countries, where dental hygiene isn't good enough to prevent cavities, which can lead to serious health problems.
"To get down to 5 percent, you wouldn't even be allowed to have orange juice," said Tom Sanders, a professor of nutrition and dietetics at King's College London who wasn't part of the WHO guidelines.
He said it shouldn't be that difficult for most in the developed world to get their sugar intake to 10 percent of their diet if they limit things like sugary drinks, cereals, beer, and candy.
The Sugar Association slammed the guidelines, arguing the advice was based on "weak and inconsistent data."
The International Council of Beverages Associations echoed those concerns and said beverage makers can help people cut back through smaller portion sizes, as well as no- and low-calorie drinks.
Anyone cutting back on sugar knows to avoid cookies and sodas. But sugar can be hidden
in many savory and seemingly healthier foods:
Soup: A can of Progresso's Rich & Hearty Beef Pot Roast has about 1 teaspoon of sugar per serving, with a can containing two servings.
Yogurt: A container of Chobani's 0% fat Greek yogurt in black cherry flavor lists 17 grams (about 4 teaspoons) of sugar.
Peanut butter: Skippy's Super Chunk lists almost 2 teaspoons of sugar per serving.
Cereal: Most people know cereal has sugar, especially the varieties for children, but others do, too. For example, Special K with Red Berries has more than 2 teaspoons a serving.
Frozen meals: California Kitchen's BBQ Chicken microwavable pizza might not sound sugary, but it has almost 2 teaspoons of sugar in a single-serving pie.