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The World Health Organization (WHO) is publishing a new set of dietary guidelines today recommending that sugar and sugar additives not account for more than 10 percent of the calories in a person’s diet.

The WHO report reaches different conclusions than one published last year by the US Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine, which suggested a 25 percent calorie threshold for sugar. However, the WHO is saying that a cutback in sugar consumption would help combat the worldwide obesity epidemic, which is believed to affect as many as 1.7 billion people.

The US sugar industry is not amused.

The Sugar Association labeled the WHO report as “misguided and misleading,” and said insufficient exercise, not just poor diet, leads to obesity.

The Washington Post reports this morning that it is launching a “vigorous” campaign to discredit the WHO study, and that two senators have written Tommy Thompson, the US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) about blocking the report’s release.

The industry even has gone so far as to threaten to lobby the US Congress to cut off funding to the WHO, which at more than $400 million accounts for 25 percent of its budget.
KC's View:
The sugar industry apparently isn’t familiar with the concepts of academic or scientific freedom, and would rather risk the United States being thought of as a bully than deal with the issue in a calm, mature, and scientific manner.

A “vigorous campaign” to address the issues raised by the WHO report? Sure…that just makes sense. This is, after all, America, where we’re supposed to embrace a vigorous debate about any and all issues.

But this nonsense about cutting off funding for any organization that comes to a conclusion that certain segments of our society don’t agree with? That’s for the birds…because it essentially wants to eliminate debate, not embrace it.

Obesity is a serious issue, and we ought to be looking at all these sorts of reports and conclusions to see what makes sense. We’re not sure if the US sugar industry has been consuming too much of its own product, but it sure as hell needs to cut back on the caffeine.