Sugary food consumption should be discouraged, according to anti-diabetes recommendations issued by the World Health Organization (WHO).

In its Global Report on Diabetes, WHO estimated that the number of people living with diabetes had surged to 422m in 2014, compared with 108m in 1980. It said diabetes had caused 1.5m deaths in 2012, with an additional 2.2m dying because of higher-than-optimal blood glucose levels.

In the report, WHO called on various groups, including governments and food manufacturers, to tackle the causes of diabetes together, and published a list of recommendations geared towards tackling the diabetes epidemic.

There was a call to prevent people from becoming overweight and obese, by actions such as promoting the consumption of health food, and discouraging “unhealthy foods, such as sugar sodas”.

WHO said: “A combination of fiscal policies, legislation, changes to the environment and raising awareness of health risks works best for promoting healthier diets and physical activity at the necessary scale.”

Dr Margaret Chan, director general at WHO, said: “Even in the poorest settings, governments must ensure that people are able to make these healthy choices and that health systems are able to diagnose and treat people with diabetes.”

Also this week, an expert called for food labels to show how much exercise is required to burn off calories consumed.