The John Tung Foundation has urged the government to establish clear dietary guidelines for Taiwanese, particularly a recommended daily maximum for sugar intake, and to reduce the maximum levels for fat and sodium intake.
Foundation Department of Food and Nutrition director Hsu Hui-yu (許惠玉) cited Ministry of Health and Welfare statistics as saying that more than half of the top 10 causes of death in the nation were related to diseases caused by improper diets, including malignant tumors, heart disease, cerebral vascular disease, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Long-term excessive sugar intake can lead to obesity and metabolic syndrome, Hsu said, citing a US study conducted in 2009 that showed individuals who consumed two or more cups of sugar-sweetened carbonated beverages per week experienced a statistically significant increased risk of pancreatic cancer.
Another US study in 2014 showed that girls who often drink sugar-sweetened beverages are more likely to experience their first menstruation at a younger age, as well as an increased chance of developing breast cancer, she added.
The US government’s 2015-2020 dietary guidelines suggest that people limit sugar intake to no more than 50g per day (assuming a 2,000-calorie daily diet), Hsu said, adding that while the WHO suggests the consumption of free sugar not exceed 10 percent of total daily caloric intake, last year it suggested a further reduction to less than 5 percent per day would yield additional health benefits.
The WHO suggested a diet of no more than 30 percent of total daily caloric intake from fats and no more than 10 percent from saturated fats, as well as sodium intake of less than 2g per day, Hsu said.
The government has publicized no recommended daily maximum for sugar intake, while daily diet guidelines published by the ministry only suggest a diet with 20 percent to 30 percent of total daily caloric intake from fat and a maximum sodium intake of less than 2.4g per day, she added.
The foundation urged the government to accelerate the establishment of healthy dietary guidelines for public reference and called on food companies to improve their products and develop more healthy alternatives.
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