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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 April, 2003, 12:26 GMT 13:26 UK
WHO attacks US sugar lobby
Obesity on the rise
The WHO says sugar intake is a leading cause of obesity

The World Health Organization has accused big business interests in the United States of trying to influence a new report on the dangers of consuming too much sugar.

Fresh guidelines to be published by the organisation on Wednesday will stress that sugar should form no more than 10% of a person's diet.

But the US Sugar Association has told the WHO that their recommendations are "unfair, misguided and misleading".

Dr Pekka Puska, director of non-communicable disease at WHO, told the BBC that big commercial interests "with major links" were trying to interfere.

Pressure was "pretty high" he said, because the WHO had very high status as a source on health information.

Funding threat

"I don't think this is a very wise strategy by the industry, because the evidence is so strong and the great public believes this message," said Dr Puska.

"I think it's bit short-sighted to deny the facts and it would be better to collaborate.

"Food is different from tobacco. We always have to eat, so our aim is just to change consumption from unhealthy to healthy."

The Sugar Association, which includes such giants as Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola and General Foods, is reported to have threatened to lobby Congress to withdraw funding from the WHO unless its sugar report is withdrawn.

It says other evidence suggests that sugar can safely form one quarter of a person's food intake.

Responding to a draft of the WHO report last month, the Sugar Association said there was "a preponderance of recent scientific evidence" exonerating sugar as a cause of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, hyperactivity and tooth decay.


WATCH AND LISTEN
Andy Briscoe, America's Sugar Association president
"The study itself is very misguided and certainly should not be released"



SEE ALSO:
Fat Americans sue fast food firms
25 Jul 02  |  Americas


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