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ICMR-NIN's New Dietary Guidelines for India



  May 14, 2024

ICMR-NIN's New Dietary Guidelines for India


 
Introduction

The Indian Council of Medical Research-National Institute of Nutrition (ICMR-NIN) has released updated dietary guidelines advising against sugar for children under two years old and limiting sugar intake to 5% of daily calories for those over two.

Guideline Overview

- For Children Under 2: No added sugar.

- For Individuals Over 2: Limit sugar intake to 5% of daily calories.

- Alignment: These guidelines align with the World Health Organization's (WHO) 2015 recommendations.

Rationale

- Health Impact: High sugar consumption is linked to obesity, diabetes, and other non-communicable diseases.

- Current Policies: Contrast with India's food policies that permit higher sugar levels in infant and packaged foods.

Concerns with Packaged Foods

- Nestlé Controversy: Nestlé has been criticized for adding sugar to baby food products like Cerelac in India while omitting it in wealthier nations.

- Existing Regulations: India's Food Safety and Standards (Foods for Infant Nutrition) Regulations allow up to 20% sucrose and/or fructose in total carbohydrates, which experts deem excessive.

Expert Opinions

- Dr. Arun Gupta: Advocates for no added sugar in infant foods and clear Front-of-Pack Labeling (FoPL) for older children and adults.

- Dr. Tushar Tayal: Highlights the metabolic issues caused by high sugar intake, including fatty liver and insulin resistance.

- Seema Gulati: Emphasizes the harm of added sugars compared to natural sugars found in fruits and dairy.

Public Health Impact

- Disease Burden: 56.4% of India's disease burden is diet-related.

- Non-communicable Diseases: A significant portion of the population is diabetic, pre-diabetic, or obese due to dietary habits and sedentary lifestyles.

Call for Stricter Regulations

- Scientific Cut-offs: Experts call for mandatory scientific cut-offs for salt, sugar, and fats in processed foods.

- Transparency: Advocacy for clear food labeling and stricter enforcement of regulations to protect public health.

Future Directions

- Policy Reform: Potential changes in food labeling and sugar content regulations due to increasing pressure from nutrition advocates and public health experts.

- Consumer Awareness: Emphasis on educating consumers about the health risks associated with high sugar intake and the importance of reading food labels.

Conclusion

The new dietary guidelines by ICMR-NIN reflect a crucial step towards addressing the health impacts of excessive sugar consumption. Stricter regulations and increased transparency in food labeling are essential for protecting public health and curbing the rising prevalence of diet-related diseases in India.



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