Why Health Canada might change recommended levels of sugar intake

TORONTO – Everyone knows too much sugar isn’t good for your health. But Canadians may soon be told to have even less.

Rona Ambrose, Canada’s health minister, suggested the health agency might soon recommend people only consume 100 grams of sugar each day. That works out to 24 teaspoons of sugar or 20 per cent of the average person’s total caloric intake.

“Most Canadians right now take in about 50 to 60 grams of added sugar and another 50 grams of naturally occurring sugars. So we do hit 100 grams already and it’s actually pretty easy to reach that amount,” said Cara Rosenbloom, a registered dietitian and president of Words to Eat By. She teaches clients how to read nutrition fact panels, how to navigate the grocery store and how to prepare the purchased items.

“People who drink pop are going to hit 100 grams easily. A can of soda can run 40 grams, a bottle 60 grams,” Rosenbloom said.

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READ MORE: How much sugar should you be eating? How to follow WHO’s guidelines

Dr. Yoni Freedhoff has been following Health Canada’s progress on creating a new food labelling system for months and wonders how the Canadian government decided on the 100 gram number.

“Its a larger amount than has been proposed by other organizations,” Freedhoff said.

In March for example, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended added sugars make up no more than 10 per cent of a persons total caloric intake.

The proposed level from Health Canada – 100 grams – equals roughly 20 per cent.

READ MORE: What Health Canada’s ‘easier to read’ nutrition labels would look like

Yet Freedhoff, who runs an obesity clinic in Ottawa and writes a blog called “Weighty Matters” says any reduction of sugar intake is positive.

“The goal for everyone should be less,” Freedhoff said, “The smallest amount is the right amount.”