Sugar can be classified in two ways. The first is naturally occurring sugar which can be found in whole, unprocessed foods like fruit, milk and vegetables. The second kind is called free sugar, which is the extra sugar added into food and drink by food manufacturers. This term also describes the sugar naturally present in honey, fruit juices and syrups.
On average, people in Britain are consuming around 700g of sugar a week: that’s 140 teaspoons per person! The intake of sugar amongst teenagers is highest of all groups – they consume 50% more sugar on average than is currently recommended.
The Government’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) provides guidance on the consumption of free sugar and their advice is that adults should consume no more than 7 teaspoons of free sugar per day.
What risks are associated with eating too much sugar?
Sugar provides the body with empty calories, which means it gives us energy without actually providing us with nutrients. So, you can consume a lot of sugar and not feel full. This can lead to potential weight gain, as well as rapid rises and drops in blood sugar levels which make you feel very tired. Ironically, this will lead you to crave even more sugar!
Sugar also plays a key role in fuelling tooth decay, as it drives acid formation by oral bacteria. Acid formation wears away the tooth enamel, which leads to cavities.
How can I keep track of sugar intake?
Free or added sugar is not always easy to spot, as it’s often not clearly labelled by food manufacturers. If you look at the ingredients on food packaging, you’ll find that they’re listed in order of the highest quantity first. What you might not realise is that the following are all types of sugar: agave nectar, fructose, glucose, corn syrup, molasses, dextrose and sweetener.
Guidelines from the NHS website state that food is classed as “high in sugar” if it contains more than 22.5g of total sugars per 100g. If it contains 5g or less of total sugars per 100g, it is classed as “low in sugar.” You can also use the red/amber/green traffic light system on packaging to keep track of your sugar intake.
Top tips to take away
- Beware of hidden sugar in food and drink
- Brush morning and night with a toothpaste which has 1350ppm-1500ppm fluoride
- Don’t miss your dental appointments
- Keep track of how much sugar you’re consuming throughout the day
- Make sure you eat a balanced diet, with everything in moderation