Sugars are simple carbohydrates. Based on the chemical structures, they can be divided into two types - monosaccharides (single sugar molecule, such as glucose, fructose and galactose) and disaccharides (two single sugar molecules bound together, such as maltose, sucrose and lactose). Like all carbohydrates, sugars are a source of energy. Regardless of the type (white, raw or brown, honey or corn syrup), each gram (g) of sugar can provide about 4 kilocalories (kcal) of energy.


Sugars are found naturally in food, such as fruit, grains and dairy products. However, sugars are also added during the preparation and processing of a wide variety of food and beverages as flavour enhancers, preservatives or bulking agents. The amounts of added sugars can vary greatly. For example, yoghurts may contain anything between 0 to 20% sugars, jams and other preserves include about 60% sugars. Most chocolate and confectionery are high in sugars. Many canned products and savoury processed foods also contain significant amounts of sugars.

Added sugars provide 'empty calories' because they do not contain any nutrients. On the other hand, the natural food sources of sugars not only provide sugars as calorie sources, but also other nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre.


There is no dietary requirement for sugars. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations recommend that healthy people should limit sugar intake to less than 10% of total energy each day. Thus, for example, people consuming 2 000 kcal a day should eat no more than 50 g (about 10 teaspoons) of sugars a day (including sugars naturally present in honey, syrups and fruit juices or sugars added to foods).

Health Alert

Excess intake of sugars can lead to weight gain and other health issues including tooth decay.

Practical Tips for Reducing Sugar Intake

Sugars are placed at the "Eat the Least" level at the top of the Food Pyramid. They should be taken in small amounts. Here are some suggestions for keeping your sugar intake in check:



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