CANCER Council Queensland has joined the World Health Organisation in advising adults to significantly reduce the amount of sugar in their diet - the latest move to combat rising obesity.

New draft guidelines issued by the WHO recommend that sugar should make up less than 10 per cent of a person's daily energy intake, advising that a reduction to below 5 per cent would have additional benefits.

The calls from the global agency come as half a billion people worldwide report being obese, with the number expected to rise in both children and adults.

Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said reducing sugar intake as part of a daily diet was an important step to reducing overweight and obesity.

"Obesity is caused by a range of factors, but we know limiting sugary, fatty and salty food and drinks is a crucial aspect of maintaining a healthy weight," Ms Clift said.

"Being overweight or obese increases your risk of a range of chronic diseases including some cancers, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

"It's imperative that Queenslanders know how much sugar they are consuming - many items that are marketed to us as being healthy can contain a lot of hidden sugars.

"Five per cent of total energy intake is about 25 grams (or six teaspoons) of sugar per day for an adult of normal Body Mass Index.

"The suggested limits on intake of sugars in the draft guideline apply to all monosaccharides, such as glucose and fructose, and disaccharides, such as sucrose or table sugar, which are added to food by manufacturers or consumers, as well as sugars that are naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit concentrates.

"We often consume hidden sugars in processed foods that are not usually seen as sweets. For example, one tablespoon of tomato sauce can contain about 4 grams, or one whole teaspoon, of sugar. A single can of sugar-sweetened soft drink contains up to 40 grams, or 10 teaspoons, of sugar.

"We support WHO's recommendation that sugars should make up less than 10 per cent of total energy intake per day and we support the new WHO draft guideline proposing that sugars should be less than 10 per cent of total energy intake per day, agreeing that a reduction to below 5 per cent of total energy intake per day would have additional benefits."

Obesity rates for Queensland adults have doubled in the last 16 years. Currently, around 57 per cent of Queensland adults and about 26 per cent of the state's children are overweight or obese.

At least one-third of all cancers are preventable through lifestyle adjustments including eating a healthy diet, being physically active, reducing alcohol intake and maintaining a healthy weight.

Queenslanders are invited to join the QUEST to live a healthier life and reduce their risk of cancer, via quest.org.au.

More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available at www.cancerqld.org.au or via Cancer Council Helpline 13 11 20.



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