Dental Experts Call for Food Industry to Reduce Sugar Levels in Products

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20 Jun 2014 --- Dentists are calling for big reductions in daily sugar consumption in order to tackle the growing problem of tooth decay. Sugar consumption through food and beverages should be limited to four teaspoons a day, according to a report published in the Public Health Nutrition Journal.

Current UK guidelines suggest sugar should not contribute more than 11% of our daily calories but there have been demands recently to bring this figure down to 5%. Experts from the University College London (Aubrey Sheiham, professor of Dental Public Health) and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (Philip James), who wrote the report, are calling for this to be reduced to 3% because of the damage sugar has on the nation’s teeth. 

“Tooth decay is one of the most widespread health problems and it is thought around a third of UK children aged 12 have visible tooth decay,” said Sheiham. “Added sugar has found its way into almost all food, and the use of sugar as a means to calm, entertain, or reward children has become normalised, whereas sugar should be an occasional treat. The government must stop acting in the best interests of the food and drink industry rather than individuals, and take action on sugar now.”

The average sugar consumption per day is around 58g or 14.5 teaspoons for adults and 76g or around 19 teaspoons for teenagers. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recently called for a reduction in consumption to around 5% of daily calories, which equates to 25g or six teaspoons. 

The new study suggests even lower levels are necessary to protect teeth from decay or caries, bringing the figure down to 2 to 3% of calories, which equates to 15g a day or four teaspoons. That would represent a reduction of 74% against the current average for adults.

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