More than 6 teaspoons of sugar daily increases risk of 45 different health problems

CHENGDU, China — Limiting added sugar to just six teaspoons a day and sticking with one sugary drink a week could improve your health immensely, a new study reveals. Moreover, researchers in China say consuming too much added sugar each day raises the risk of developing 45 different health conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, and depression.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has suggested that added sugars should not make up more than 10 percent of daily energy intake. An international team has now carried out an umbrella review to find out the quality of evidence, potential biases, and validity of all available studies on dietary sugar consumption and health outcomes.

Umbrella reviews look at previous studies on a topic and offer an overall view of all the information available. The investigation included 73 studies from just over 8,600 articles, which covered 83 health outcomes in adults and children.

The studies showed that too much sugar can lead to diabetes, gout, obesity, high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. They also revealed that a sugary diet can lead to seven cancer outcomes, including breast, prostate, and pancreatic tumors. What’s more, too much sugar can cause asthma, tooth decay, depression, and even death.

Too much soda could lead to serious health issues

Drinking sugar-sweetened drinks displayed a significant link with an increase in body weight, while adding sugar into what we eat and drink can lead to a rise in liver and muscle fat. Some of the studies offered low quality evidence, making them less reliable. This data indicated that for each additional serving per week of sugar-sweetened drinks there is a four-percent rise in the risk of gout.

Drinking 250ml per day of sugary drinks also had a link to a 17-percent higher risk of coronary heart disease and a four-percent higher risk of death. This low-quality evidence also suggested that every 25 grams per day of fructose has a connection to a 22-percent increased risk of pancreatic cancer.

Fructose mainly occurs naturally in fruit.

Child holding sugary, processed junk food
(© colnihko –

“The umbrella review shows that high dietary sugar consumption, especially intake of sugars that contain fructose, is harmfully associated with large numbers of health outcomes,” says Associate Professor Liangren Liu of the West China Hospital at Sichuan University, according to a statement from SWNS.

“Evidence for the harmful associations between dietary sugar consumption and changes in body weight (sugar-sweetened beverages), ectopic fat accumulation (added sugars), obesity in children (sugar-sweetened beverages), coronary heart disease (sugar-sweetened beverages), and depression (sugar-sweetened beverages) seems to be more reliable than that for other outcomes,” the researcher adds.

“Evidence of the association between dietary sugar consumption and cancer remains limited but warrants further research.”

Health officials urge children to avoid extra sugar

Overall, there was very little reliable evidence showing any beneficial associations between sugar consumption and any health outcomes. The researchers acknowledge that existing evidence is mostly observational and of low quality. They stress that evidence for a link between dietary sugar consumption and cancer remains limited as well. The findings suggest that people should reduce the amount of sugar they add to just six teaspoons a day and stick with just one or fewer sugary drinks a week.

“Nevertheless, they say these findings, combined with WHO, World Cancer Research Fund and American Institute for Cancer Research guidance, suggest reducing the consumption of free sugars or added sugars to below 25 g/day (approximately six teaspoons a day) and limiting the consumption of sugar sweetened beverages to less than one serving a week (approximately 200-355 mL/week),” the study authors write in a media release.

“To change sugar consumption patterns, especially for children and adolescents, a combination of widespread public health education and policies worldwide is also urgently needed.”

The study is published in The BMJ.

South West News Service writer Alice Clifford contributed to this report.

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  1. good, but just like lead in gasoline, climatechange and nicotine a.s.o. ad nauseam the spread of the knowledge that sugar is toxic in relatively small amount has been and will be fought every step of the way by certain industries…..

  2. Perhaps because much of the sugar cane is grown genetically modified, and since foods began to be modified back in 1995-1996, they still have yet to understand some people are affected by that modification. Modified to be “round up ready” with the food containing the BT toxin.
    No one wants to discuss those things, of course. Truth is,
    Science isn’t always honest with us, when profit is the main motivation. Some deny that, but reality tells us a different story.
    Not to mention the medical machine that weakens us all gradually, also a fact. Just research “iatrogenesis”. The stats are troubling.
    We’re surrounded by a con game to some degree, it is up to us to follow the money and the actors.

  3. OK. On to low fructose corn syrup then.
    Yep. And then Cane Sugar. The healthy low fructose sugar.

    Dusted with powdered hydrolyzed soy protein too.

    Get your protein sweet & healthy & eco friendly.

    I can see the marketing and lobby campaign now…

  4. Yes I agree sugar isn’t really very good for us but anything that the WHO supports is a lie. The WHO wants us all sick and dying so don’t listen to a word they say.

    1. What a ridiculous assertion. “The WHO wants us all sick.” Why would any organization outside of the pharma industry want everyone sick? What’s the evidence for your idiotic generalization? A conspiracy theory here, an Internet meme there, and suddenly the WHO is full of maniacs. Shut off your social media and get to know the real world.

  5. Early studies in the 70’s and 80’s showed that it was intake of sugar rather than fats that increased death from heart disease. The FDA and Pharma industry had already invested too much money into statins to back off their use and convin ced the public to fight cholesterol and ignore any warnings about sugar.

  6. Sugar is another word for carbohydrates. If all the staff and members at the BMJ , plus the authors of this study , and the administration at the WHO , were honest about this, they would be consuming no food containing ANY carbohydrates.

    I wish they would. No-one would have to hear any more about this preposterous “bull-chit”,
    in a few months.

    1. If you ate no carbohydrates period, you’d avoid all fruits, all vegetables, all grains, all nuts and seeds to start. Meat and dairy have some carbohydrates, too, so what would you eat?

  7. According to, carbohydrates should make up 45 to 65 percent of your daily caloric intake. Skimping too much on carbohydrates can cause several health problems.

  8. It took a study for the ChiComs to figure this out? It goes to show that they’re nothing when they can’t steal from the US.

  9. Fructose in fruit is not the problem because it has fibre in it which slows down the absorption. It’s the sugar in all the processed stuff that is bad. Your comment about fruit is misleading.

  10. “high dietary sugar consumption, especially intake of sugars that contain fructose, is harmfully associated with large numbers of health outcomes

    Fructose mainly occurs naturally in fruit”

    So we can’t even eat fruit now?

    1. Fructose in fruit is in low concentrations that the body can handle, assuming you’re not pounding down a gallon of fruit salad every day. Fructose in soda and other junk food is typically in higher concentrations than the liver can process and that the body in general can manage.

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