Development of trustworthy guidelines on dietary sugar requires improvement. As the link between sugars and the resulting health issues has a very low quality of evidence, says the study.
Public health officials and consumers should be aware of these limitations when considering recommendations on dietary sugar. Nutritional guidelines restricting sugar intake are not based on reliable science, published in Annals of Internal Medicine.
‘Guidelines on sugar consumption given by well known organizations differ, causing confusion. Hence, development of genuine guidelines is necessary.’
The relationship between sugar intake and health is complex and is influenced by many variables. Based on available evidence, several authoritative health organizations, including the World Health Organization, have issued differing public health guidelines on sugar consumption. When respected organizations issue conflicting recommendations, it can result in confusion and raises concern about the quality of the guidelines and underlying evidence.
Researchers conducted a systematic review of nine authoritative guidelines on sugar intake to determine the consistency of recommendations, methodological quality of guidelines, and the quality of evidence supporting each recommendation.
Guideline quality was rated using the Appraisal of Guidelines for Research and Evaluation 2nd edition (AGREE II) instrument.
To assess evidence quality, articles supporting recommendations were independently reviewed and rated using Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) methods.
Researchers concluded that guidelines on dietary sugar are based on low-quality evidence and, therefore, do not meet criteria for trustworthy recommendations. These findings suggest that the development of trustworthy guidelines on dietary sugar requires improvement.
The authors of an accompanying editorial suggest that the public consider the funding source and methods of the review before accepting the authors' conclusions. They note that the review was funded by the North American branch of the International Life Sciences Institute, a trade group representing several big companies in the food and beverage industry, including The Coca-Cola Company, The Hershey Company, and Mars, Inc.