Sugar is bad for your teeth. We all know that. So cliche but is it? Recent research urges us to rethink our consumption of sugar, not just for the sake of our oral health but also our overall health.
It may seem as though society is battling the obesity epidemic with all the attention on healthy lifestyle, diet and exercise; however, by 2019 overweight and obese adults will outnumber those with a normal weight in half of the provinces in Canada. Adults are not the only ones who are caught in the obesity epidemic; it is now even seen in babies who are only six months old. Experts have begun questioning the theory that all calories are created equally and now believe that some may be worse than others. The main contributor to obesity in last decades has shifted from just focusing on fat; as we usually believe, to sugar which may actually be more of a culprit!
Why is sugar bad for you?
Sugar has been blamed for its role in the obesity epidemic. It may also be related to many other health conditions in modern society like heart disease, diabetes and even Alzheimer’s and has been called a toxin and poison by some scientists. Many try to avoid sugar but even with good attempts it is hard to avoid it as more than 80% of food items sold in stores have added sugar or high-fructose corn syrup. It is ubiquitous and is added to almost everything, even with food one hasn’t thought about. One tablespoon of ketchup can contain a tablespoon of sugar and this is common for many unsuspecting sauces. As people turn their attention t to fat content, many “low fat” and seemingly healthy products, many of which are targeted for children, contain more sugar to make them more palatable.
Here is a table that highlights the astonishing amount of sugar in select food items. It shows how many grams of sugar they each contain and how many sugar cubes that translates into.
Another interesting example provided by one expert was when he compared eating a piece of white bread as equivalent to a pack of skittles. Another big source of sugar for children is honey, fruit juices and sweeteners even if they are flagged as “healthier options.” Take a look at this website, http://www.cbc.ca/fifth/sugarinthekitchen/ it has an easy grams to teaspoons conversion set up where you can check how many teaspoons are in food items when it only lists the grams of sugar on the packaging.
How addicted we are to sugar?
Statistics from 2004 showed that Canadians consumed 26 teaspoons of sugar a day, which accounts for over 21% of the daily caloric intake. The average Canadian eats 88 pounds of sugar a year. What’s even more shocking is the average nine year old boy consumes 123 pounds of sugar and average teen male consumes 138 pounds a year. One of the items that contributes most to this high level of sugar is soft drinks.
How we can cut down the amount of sugar consumption?
In hopes of gaining some control over sugar consumption, the World Health Organization and the Childhood Obesity Foundation are proposing a daily recommended sugar intake limited to 5% of total daily caloric intake. Choose fruits and veggies which may be high in sugar but are also high in fibre that way they are being digested slowly allowing the body to use up stored energy and ward off persistent hunger. For more ways to adopt a low sugar diet, try these suggestions from Health Canada. http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/food-guide-aliment/maintain-adopt/limit-eng.php
Copyright 2014 The Children’s Oral Care Centre