Free sugars make up a large part of our diet. For years, doctors and dentists have warned us about the devastating effects of sugar on the diet. Today, some of those effects are starting to emerge:
A new report from University College London and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine indicates that sugars in the diet should make up “no more than 3% of total energy intake.”
Those whose diet involves more than 3% sugar intake are at a substantially higher risk for all sorts of dental and health problems.
Here are some of the significant findings from the report:
–60% to 90% of school-age children and the “vast majority” of adults are affected by tooth decay
–92% of adults aged 20 to 64 have experienced tooth decay in at least one of their permanent teeth
-Industrialized countries spend 5% to 10% of their total health expenditure on treating dental diseases
-For this latest report, researchers scanned public health records from countries all over the world. They found that rates of tooth decay increased dramatically for any sugar consumption higher than 0% of daily energy supply.
-Some of the most significant findings from the study came from Japan, which did not import or produce any sugar in the years following World War II. Researchers found that tooth decay was highly reduced during this time. Then, when Japan once again started to import sugar, rates of tooth decay increased.
-Typically, those living in poorer countries have worse health problems than those living in wealthier countries. That’s not the case for tooth decay. In Nigeria, only 2% of people of all ages experience tooth decay. In the United States, a whopping 92% of adults have experienced tooth decay.
How to reduce tooth decay
The report did more than just examine tooth decay rates around the world. It also recommended specific changes which can be made to reduce rates of tooth decay. Here are some of the recommended changes:
Careful monitoring of children’s food
Many fruit juices and candy cater directly to children and have high levels of sugar. These treats should not be promoted. The food provided at nurseries and schools should have a maximum of free sugars in the complete range of foods totaling no more than 2.5% of energy.
Removal of vending machines
You don’t have to look far around any city to find vending machines offering candy bars and sugary drinks. While the report doesn’t recommend banning vending machines, it does say that any vending machines “supported financially by local or central government” should be removed. In other words, government should not be encouraging consumption of sugary products.
Label food products
Food products should be relabeled to indicate their sugar content. Any product with more than 2.5% sugar should feature a “High Sugar Content” label.
Convert sugar into alcohol
Brazil is famous for turning its rich sugar cane crops into alcohol for use as vehicle fuel. Researchers recommend this approach as an easy way to reduce sugar consumption.
Many jurisdictions around the world now tax high-energy products like energy drinks. Researchers recommend taking this one step further by creating a wide-scale “sugar tax” which would increase the price of sugary drinks and sugar rich foods by at least 20% in order to reduce consumer demand.
Hoover dentist, Dr. Gentry Gonzalez, along with the dental community has long preached the importance of a reduced sugar diet for alleviating tooth decay and unhealthy lifestyles.
Want to prevent tooth decay and avoid serious dental issues? Maybe skip that afternoon soda or candy bar. Your tooth will thank you.