GENEVA (Reuters) - The World Health Organisation says it stands by scientific findings advising consumers to limit sugar intake, shrugging off pressure from sugar and soft drinks industry lobbyists to ease off.
The Geneva-based WHO said on Tuesday it received letters from U.S. and European associations representing the industry hotly contesting research recommending that consumers limit sugar to 10 percent of all food and drinks consumed in a day.
"WHO believes that the findings represent the best available science in the world. We stand by it," spokesman Jon Liden said.
To help tackle global health problems including obesity and diabetes, United Nations agencies WHO and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) on Wednesday will launch a joint report on nutrition compiled by some 30 independent experts.
"The launch and briefing will take place in Rome tomorrow," an FAO official told Reuters. "The report has been published on the web for some weeks and it will remain there," he added, referring to www.fao.org
The report recommends limiting sugar to 10 percent of overall dietary intake, running counter to the sugar industry's backing of 25 percent as a sugar consumption limit.
"We have not found anything in the sugar industry's argument that makes us reconsider any findings," Liden said. He added the WHO had recommended a 10 percent limit as far back as 1990.
The industry backs a 2002 report by the Institute of Medicine, part of the U.S. Academy of Science, which suggested a dietary limit of 25 percent of added sugars, he said.
But that report did not lay down a specific sugar limit for achieving a healthy diet and lifestyle, he said.
Groups that have lobbied the WHO include the American Association of Sugar Producers, the U.K.-based World Sugar Research Organisation and the Brussels-based European Committee of Sugar Manufacturers, he said.
The U.S. administration also sought clarification on the WHO-FAO report, he added.
The FAO official said the report was commissioned from a team of independent global experts and that it would be submitted to the governing bodies of the FAO for further discussion and comment.