We all know that sugar poses a threat to our teeth. Sugar feeds certain bacteria in the mouth, and the byproduct is acid that eats away the teeth enamel.
As a recent column by an Australian dentist and cooking-show participant points out, however, people are often unaware just how much sugar they consume. The hidden sugars in many foods make it difficult to adjust diets accordingly. Hidden sugars can be especially damaging to children, and cavities aren’t the only risk of too much sugar.
The Not-So-Sweet Sugar Industry
In September, documents published by JAMA Internal Medicine (a journal of the American Medical Association) revealed that in the 1950s and ’60s the sugar industry sought to downplay an established link between sugar and heart disease, and instead promote saturated fat as a primary risk factor for heart disease. The Sugar Research Foundation—today known as the Sugar Association—paid scientists in 1967 to publish a research review that minimised the connection between sugar and heart problems.
The compromised research influenced dietary recommendations still in effect today. And companies that peddle sugar are still funding studies. Coca-Cola, the world’s largest soft-drink maker, has provided millions of dollars to researchers who distance sugary drinks from obesity.
An Associated Press report showed candy manufacturers backed research saying children who eat candy weigh less than kids who don’t. Even one of the study’s coauthors noted the research was “thin and clearly padded.”
The Dangers of Hidden Sugar
In a column for the Herald Sun, dentist and former “MasterChef Australia” contestant Matthew Hopcraft notes that despite labeling regulations for sugar, it’s easy for food and beverage producers to conceal just how much sugar a product contains. Sugar can be disguised under many names: sucrose, glucose, maltose, cane juice, corn syrup, agave nectar, etc. Some of those names even sound healthy. Health fads sometimes promote “healthy” forms of sugar, which is misleading.
As for Australia’s Health Star Rating system, it is not a requirement. Companies may voluntarily submit nutritional profiles for products. Makers of high-sugar foods and drinks avoid the dreaded half-star ratings by not submitting profiles.
The average Australian is believed to consume 14 teaspoons of sugar per day (that’s about 56 grams), more than double the World Health Organisation’s recommended maximum of six teaspoons (about 24 grams). Children, whose mouths and teeth are still developing, are particularly at risk to the hazards of sugar. Approximately half of all Australian children experience decay in either their baby teeth or permanent teeth.
The good news is that there are dental treatments to help maintain bright, healthy smiles. If you’re due for a checkup and teeth cleaning, the Sydney dentists at My Hills Dentist are ready to provide the personalised, compassionate care you deserve. Please call us today at (02) 9686 7375 to schedule your appointment at our Baulkham Hills office.