This guideline provides updated, evidence-informed guidance on the intake of carbohydrates to reduce the risk of diet-noncommunicable diseases in adults and children, with a particular focus on carbohydrate “quality”. Carbohydrate quality refers to the nature and composition of carbohydrates in a food or in the diet, including the proportion of sugars, how quickly polysaccharides are metabolized and release glucose into the body (i.e. digestibility), and the amount of dietary fibre. The quality of carbohydrates in the diet can broadly impact health.
This guideline is intended for a wide audience involved in the development, design and implementation of policies and programmes in nutrition and public health. This guideline includes recommendations on preferred food sources of carbohydrates, and recommended levels of intake for fruits and vegetables, and dietary fibre which can be used by policy-makers and programme managers to address various aspects of carbohydrate intake in their populations through a range of policy actions and public health interventions.
The guidance in this guideline replaces previous WHO guidance on carbohydrate intake, including that from the 1989 WHO Study Group on Diet, Nutrition and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases and the 2002 Joint WHO/FAO Expert Consultation on Diet, Nutrition and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases. The guidance in this guideline should be considered in the context of that from other WHO guidelines on healthy diets.