Government and health organizations worldwide have issued dietary guidelines for sugars. These guidelines vary considerably in the recommended or suggested intakes and the types of sugars specified. Despite access to the same published literature, recommendations vary greatly and create confusion for nutrition practitioners who offer dietary guidance. Some of the confusion in this field is linked to differences in definitions for sugar and methods to measure total sugars. Additionally, although dietary guidance typically recommends foods high in sugar, fruits and dairy products, other advice suggests strict limits on intake of “added sugar”. Added sugar cannot be analytically determined and must be calculated so nutrient databases generally contain values for total sugar and do not differentiate between sugars naturally occurring in foods and those added in processing. This review defines sugars, provides the sugar content of major food sources, summarizes health concerns about dietary sugars, and compiles dietary guidelines for sugars issued by various organizations. Dietary recommendations from various health organizations are based on different means of assessment, and thus vary considerably. In general, the use of added sugars is cautioned, especially when it contributes to calories in excess of needs for an individual.
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