The recommendations from Public Health England (PHE) coincide with a report from the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) which also advises consumption of drinks sweetened by sugar should be minimised by both adults and children.
Free sugars are sugars added to food, such as table sugar or those naturally present in honey, syrups and unsweetened fruit juices.
The Government has accepted the recommendations and said that it would be using them to develop a national strategy on childhood obesity later this year.
On Monday the British Medical Association called for a 20 per cent tax on sugary drinks and stricter regulations on fast food outlets and promotion.
They said an average can of fizzy drink contains about seven sugar cubes, while there are around eight in the average bowl of ice cream.
Consuming too many beverages high in sugar increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
The BNF said the call to cut recommended daily sugar intake levels in half and increase fibre intake by 80% for adults was “not representative” of most people’s diets. “SACN recommends a reduction in “free sugars” in the diet as one way of lowering energy (calorie) intake to help reduce obesity”, he says.
Its chairman, Mick Armstrong, said: “We have an historic opportunity here to end Britain’s addiction to sugar”.
SACN, which is an independent body of expert nutritionists, focused their research on free sugars, which are what are added to foods.
Highlighting the recent rise in hospital admissions through tooth decay among young children, their findings have been backed by the British Dental Association (BDA). “By halving recommended sugar intake we could start bringing down the multimillion-pound bill we all pay for expanding waistlines and sick mouths”. The recommendation is also aimed at improving dental health.
Today the Government has brought out rules they think we should follow to make sure we don’t have too much sugar in our diets. But in some other countries, regulations and duties have successfully reduced sugar intake. Published diet modelling3 shows that people can reduce free sugars and boost fibre in the diet in a number of ways while still fitting in the foods and drink they enjoy.
A Cabinet source reported in the MailOnline said: “Most people already eat more than the recommended amount”.
“He added: “Demonising any one ingredient in the obesity debate isn’t helpful””.
The Department of Health and Food Standards Agency asked the SAC to look at the latest evidence on the links between eating and drinking carbohydrates and sugars and a range of health issues including type 2 diabetes and tooth decay.
“We are happy to have that debate, including the role education should have in what people eat”.
The SACN committee is understood to have been concerned that this would send mixed messages to the public and has now removed mentions of 10% – much to the dismay of members of the food industry.