Study Finds Sugar Limits Based On ‘Low’ Quality Evidence

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Philadelphia — A study in the Annals of Internal Medicine has called into question official advice around limiting sugar in the diet, as the recommendations were based on “low” and “very low” quality evidence, The Atlantic reports in an article examining the dangers of governments offering too-specific dietary advice.

The study published in the Annals looked at a dozen guidelines on sugar passed by governments around the world since 2002 — including the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which recommends limiting sugars to 10 percent of calories. Study authors claim reviews to date have overstated the evidence.

For example, in one of the most rigorous studies on sugar and weight, only five trials lasting six months or longer could be found with only 1,245 people participating. Researchers from the Annals found the study to portray data as more consistent than it was and failed to account for evidence indicating what types of sugars were shown to have no detrimental effect, The Atlantic reports.

“Yet if, as the Annals paper concludes, experts are skirting scientific norms by passing guidelines based on weak evidence, the whole process of guideline-making is effectively watered down,” writes Nina Teicholz in The Atlantic. “And the need for reliable guidance is no abstract question; indeed, everything from our waistlines to whether we might eat eggs for breakfast depends on it.”

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