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Sugar Free September

It seems that whenever you turn on the television at the moment, sugar is a recurring subject!

From Wednesday’s ‘Alternative Ingredients’ Great British Bake Off (GBBO) where the contestants were tasked with creating cakes without using sugar, to last night’s one-off Jamie’s Sugar Rush on Channel Four, sugar is rarely out of the spotlight.

From a dental perspective, this national media attention is excellent news and reiterates what we have been saying for years – sugar is really not good for you, so we are very pleased that people are finally catching on!

Recently updated guidelines from the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition recommend that ‘intake of free sugars should not exceed 5% of total dietary energy’ – widely believed to be approximately equivalent to 7 teaspoons. Anyone who watched last night’s Jamie’s Sugar Rush will know that this is not as easy as it sounds if your diet contains processed food.

Jamie Oliver’s Sugar Rush campaign is lobbying the government to introduce a tax on sugary drinks which would see funds ring-fenced for use in schools to educate youngsters on the importance of a healthy, balanced diet.

The campaign also includes a five point ‘Sugar Manifesto’ which can only have a positive effect according to Illume owner, dentist Tim Rumney.

“As one of the new breed of celebrities who is a skilled media operator, having a household name like Jamie Oliver spearhead a high-profile health education campaign really helps to get the message across to a wide range of people, “ says Tim. “And that’s what’s key – people need simple, factual information to help them make the right choice for themselves and their family.” 

A quick search on the internet shows that the idea of a Sugar Free September is gaining momentum around the world. From Australia and New Zealand to right here in the UK, people are wising up to the wide variety of health issues that this ‘whiter than white’ ingredient can cause, as this recent article from the British Dental Health Foundation explains.

Tim continues, “The film clip of six year old Mario having his teeth extracted because of decay caused by sugar on last night’s programme was an effective shock tactic, but sugar is the number one cause of tooth decay. No matter how strict your tooth brushing regime is, enamel simply isn’t designed to withstand constant attack from sugar.”

And it’s not just hidden sugars like those we highlighted in our recent ‘Truth About Your Teeth’ blog post - there are also lots and lots of foods out there with enormous sugar content blatantly on show!

Wednesday’s GBBO demonstrated that there are some really tasty alternatives to using refined sugar to achieve the sweet taste that we all expect from a cake – agave nectar, honey, maple syrup and fruit were just some of the substitutions used with varying degrees of success!

However, whilst these are alternatives to refined sugar, they are STILL sugars and therefore still harmful to teeth. As a nation, we need to address the frequency that we consume ALL sugars including ‘natural’ sugars if we are going to make any inroads into reducing dental decay.

As for fizzy drinks – we’ll leave the last word to Jamie Oliver’s teamDon’t keep sugary drinks in the house! If they’re not there, you can’t drink them!

More top tips and recipe ideas to reduce sugar intake can be found by visiting the Jamie Oliver website, whilst Action on Sugar offers advice on how to eat less sugar – find out more by visiting www.actiononsugar.org.

Change for Life also contains a number of sugar swap ideas aimed at the whole family.

If you’re concerned about the effects of sugar on your dental health, please discuss with your Illume dentist at your next Healthy Mouth Review. We’re always happy to offer advice and support whenever we can.