OK, so this is little more than ‘guidance’, and we all know how well guidance is followed when it comes to the general public and nutritional recommendations. Heck, to be fair you might question why it is you should have to follow this guidance when there’s every possibility this will change in the next couple of days! Yes, research is an ongoing process which changes and progresses, and then regresses again in relatively short spaces of time, all in the pursuit of progress. So as human beings, all that we have to go by is the consensus of informed opinion at that time, and at this moment in time the leading authority in health and nutrition are suggesting we reduce our sugar intake by 50%!
The current recommended intake as per Department of Health guidelines will not change i.e. you should still aim to limit your daily sugar intake to less than 10% of total daily calorie intake, aiming to get it down to 5%. This reduction applies to sugar added to foods during the manufacturing process, refined sugar, as well as natural sugars from honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit concentrates. For an average adult this equates to approximately 50g a day, but the World Health Organisation (WHO) even suggest getting lower than this.
Time to take notice
Ironically, the original recommendation of no more than 10% of total calories from sugar was passed 12 years ago in 2002, and yet we are still having to reassert this! The WHO put it like this, the 10% guideline is a STRONG recommendation, whilst the 5% guideline is a CONDITIONAL recommendation based on recent evidence. The UK’s current sugar intake is approx 11.6% and…get this…15.2% in children, meaning we are significantly above the recommendation and this needs to come down! A study in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) asserts that whilst sugar did not directly cause obesity, the regular consumption of sugar does promote a surplus of calories because people don’t know when to stop, simply, sugar doesn’t fill you up.
Implications on tooth decay
There are several reasons to avoid the consumption of excess sugar, a reduced prevalence of Heart disease, Cancer, Diabetes and Diabetic related secondary issues such as retinopathy, neuropathy and nephropathy, and obesity! Add dental caries to this list and you start to see why sugar intake is somewhat of a problem. The more sugar you eat the higher the risk of tooth decay, and the more refined sugars you eat (particularly sticky varieties such as confectionary) the higher the risk further still! The increased consumption of sugary beverages (especially in children) such as Lucozade and Powerade, and stimulant based carbonated beverages, as well as milkshakes and even fruit juices and smoothies are at the root (no pun intended) of many dental caries.
BBC News Health, (2014). WHO : Daily sugar intake ‘should be halved’. Retrieved 6th March, 2014, from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-26449497
World Health Organisation, (2014). WHO opens public consultation on draft sugars guidelines. Retrieved 6th March, 2014, from http://www.who.int/en/