People have been consuming sugar and adding it to their food for over 5,000 years. Yet some in the news media and public health community claim that sugar is toxic. And “added” or “free” sugars have become the vilified nutrient of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), blamed for causing obesity.

But professors and university researchers are pointing out the fallacies in these claims in the hope that governments stop falling for easy answers to complex health conditions.

Fred Bround, a professor of Health Food Innovation at Maastricht University, Netherlands, states in a recently published study that world health agencies are going beyond solid science.

“It should be acknowledged that obesity is NEVER caused by one particular nutrient and as such pointing to ‘free sugars’ as being a major cause of overweight may also mislead the public in terms of causality,” he states in Agro FOOD Industry Hi Tech.

Earlier this year, WHO released new guidelines that recommended adults and children reduce their intake of “free” sugars (which are no different from sugars intrinsic to a food or beverage) to less than 10 percent of their daily energy intake. WHO also conditionally recommended a further reduction in sugar intake to less than 5 percent of daily energy intake.

“The 5 percent level is based on the idea that there is little to no tooth decay at this level. Nevertheless, in the report of the study on which this recommendation is based, it is literally written that there is little evidence to support such a strict limit … Everyone will understand that the creation of unrealistic (in terms of unreachable) guidelines will have little to no effect at all,” Bround writes.

If the 5 percent recommendation is based on such poor science, why did WHO even recommend it? And does it sound familiar? It does to us. Recent science now shows that the previous DGACs were wrong about their recommendations on breakfast, fat, salt and cholesterol-laden foods. Worse, they ignored known science on these nutrients and foods to demonize them.

With so much conflicting information it’s no wonder people are confused. We need to keep in mind that there are no “good” or “bad” foods. Dietary advice should be based on solid science that is easy-to-understand and achievable. Trying to vilify one nutrient or food has led to poor outcomes, so let’s not repeat the mistake.

For more on the science behind sugar and beverages, check out Let’s Clear It Up.