Regional Policies on Sugar Intake Reduction at Population Levels to Address Obesity in the Eastern Mediterranean - Abstract
Sugar intake was reported to be associated with the increase in body weight and adiposity as well as several non-communicable diseases (NCDs). This relationship has highlighted the importance of reducing sugar consumption among all populations, especially those who experience nutrition and dietary transitions. The Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR) was described to have the highest increment of sugar intake over the past few decades, and this paralleled increased rates of obesity, dental and oral health problems, and others NCDs. The WHO – EMRO developed a very strict regional policy to reduce sugar intake, which requires a major change in food intake patterns. In brief, sugar supply (kg/year or energy %) in EMR seems to be relatively close to that of Europeans and Americans and this is further compounded by a massive intake of refined carbohydrates that mainly consist of milled cereals, specifically rice and wheat (double that of EU and America). Thus, recommendations should address both sugar and refined carbohydrate for fruitful results. This review discusses sugar recommendations, availability and intake as well as other sugar-related topics in countries of the EMR. It is always believed that life becomes sweeter without adding sugar!