New research has called on guidelines for sugar intake to be reduced and for dentists to be at the forefront in the fight against sugar.
A new paper published in Public Health Nutrition journal by two expert advisors of Action on Sugar calls for sugar intake to be less than four teaspoons per day (less than 3% of energy intake).
This is lower than the recent draft World Health Organisations guideline of less than 5% of energy intake.
Sugar is an important factor in the development of dental decay – the most common chronic disease in the world.
Professor Aubrey Sheiham, emeritus professor of dental public health and co-author of the study says: ‘The recommendation that sugar intake should be less than 10% of energy intake is no longer acceptable.
‘Nutrition advice on sugar needs to be renewed now – added sugar intake should be at least less than 5% of energy intake.
‘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.
‘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.’
Treating dental decay currently accounts for 6–10 % of total health costs in industrialised countries, despite there being a decline in dental decay in many countries (Patel, 2012).
Nutritionist and campaign director of Action on Sugar, Katharine Jenner says: ‘Added sugars are completely unnecessary in our diets and are strongly linked to dental decay as well as to obesity and type two diabetes.
‘We urge the World Health Organisation and the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) in the UK to take this evidence on board.’
Patel R (2012) The State of Oral Health in Europe. http://www.oralhealthplatform.eu/sites/default/files/field/document/A5-Summary-BOHEP_State%20of%20Oral%20Health_Executive%20Summary_A5_FINAL.pdf [accessed 3 July 2014].
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