Most people in the UK eat more than their daily recommended sugar intake because they do not realise how much is in frequently consumed products. By acknowledging how much sugar is in your food and drink, how it’s classified and how much you should be consuming will lead to having more control over reducing your intake and increasing your health.

Sugar is classified in two groups: free sugars, and naturally occurring sugars. Free sugar is what is added to food and drink, as well as sugar found in honey, fruit juices, fruit juice concentrates, and syrups. Naturally occurring sugar is what we find in unprocessed food, such as fruit and vegetables, milk, and some grains.

The Government’s guideline for sugar intake is a maximum of 90g for an average adult, which covers both free and naturally occurring sugars, and new recommendations from the World Health Organisation have said only 5% of your daily calorie intake should consist of free sugars.

Our daily sugar intake is easily exceeded due to the free sugars which are added to food. Free sugars can hide in food we least expect, including bread, cereal and even baked beans. Spotting hidden sugars can help battle health issues such as obesity, and help with health concerns such as diabetes, heart disease and tooth decay.

Although there are many health benefits for your overall health, keeping an eye on how much sugar you consume will help to prevent tooth decay. After you have consumed something sugary, whether that be food or drink, the sugar reacts with the bacteria in plaque, forming acids. The enamel protecting your teeth can become softened by this and over time, the acid will cause a cavity in the tooth, known as tooth decay. This can be prevented by trying to stay away from free sugars, and only eating natural occurring sugar every now and then.

Constant care and caution is the key to preventing negative effects of sugar on your teeth. Keeping an eye out for how much sugar you really are consuming, by looking out for “carbs as sugars” on the label of food, including both free and naturally occurring sugar. Looking for glucose in the ingredients, and also other words ending in “ose” (sucrose, fructose, lactose, maltose), which are usually different forms of sugar will help limit your intake.

Encourage your children to cut back on sugary food and drink, brushing away any bacteria-filled plaque as regularly as possibly, and consuming naturally healthy foods that help strengthen teeth should give you the best chance at winning the battle against tooth decay and other health issues.


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