Soft drinks, candy and other sugary snacks with little nutritional value should make up less than 10 per cent of your diet, the World Health Organization says – maybe less than five per cent, if you really want to be healthy.

Taking an old recommendation a step further Wednesday, the WHO said added, “free” sugars should ideally count for less than five per cent of your calories.

For Canadians, who consume an average of 110 grams of sugar every day, that would mean limiting daily added sugars to approximately 26 grams.

A 2004 national health survey said sugar makes up just over one-fifth of Canadians’ total daily energy consumption, and showed about 35 per cent of that sugar intake likely comes in the form of added sugar -- foods other than grains, produce, meat or milk.

The graph below breaks down where sugar comes from in an average Canadian’s diet.

Because sugar only makes up a portion of our total energy, this amount still falls below the WHO’s “strong recommendation” of 10 per cent of total energy. But the new suggestion of trimming that figure down to five per cent puts the Canadian average above that benchmark.

Breaking down the “other foods” category by age and sex, very few groups fall below that five-per-cent threshold. And for teenage boys, the average diet is right at that 10 per cent limit – meaning many people in the 13- to 18-year-old age range will be exceeding that limit on a daily basis.

Sweets souring your health

So exactly how much added sugar does the WHO recommend you consume? About 50 grams, if you want to stay below that 10-per-cent mark, and about 25 grams if you want to take it as far as five per cent.

A breakdown of common snacks below from this website shows how easy it is to sneak past those limits when satisfying your sweet tooth.

One can of Coke, for example, pushes you past 25 grams. A 591-millilitre bottle bumps you past 50 grams in one sitting. And if you thought a slushy from the corner store was about as much sugar as you could possibly subject yourself to, don’t look at the chocolate milkshake from McDonald's – that’ll cost you more than twice your recommended amount of added sugar.

Other snacks like oranges and apples also have a fair amount of sugar in them – but naturally occurring sugars aren’t counted in this recommendation. The WHO says those foods likely have other essential nutrients in them, making them a healthy part of a daily diet.