The problem with hidden sugars – dental health and obesity, we just don’t know how much there is!

The consumption of sugar is a hot topic at present especially as added hidden sugar has been found in a surprising number of foods. But how bad is it really?

For years dentists have been harping on about the adverse effects of sugar as it is well established that sugar is a causative factor in dental decay. In brief, bacteria present in plaque on the tooth surface convert fermentable sugars (such as those found in carbohydrates, fruit and dairy products) into lactic acid, which in turn makes the plaque acidic and subsequently causes demineralisation of the tooth surface.

But more recently it has been suggested that sugar can also contribute to type II diabetes and obesity due to the bodies inability to metabolise fructose. Fructose is present in table sugar as well as fruits and honey.

The World Health Organisation recently updated its recommendations to suggest free sugar consumption be 5% of total daily energy intake which is about 6 teaspoons per day. Free sugars include all hidden added sugars to food and drink as well as sugars occurring naturally in fruit juices, syrup and honey.

But this may be harder than we think as hidden sugar is present in many packaged foods including breakfast cereals, yoghurts, sauce, juices, processed meat and canned food to name a few. For example

-100g of Watties Tomato Sauce contains approximately 7 teaspoons of sugar

-100g of  Trident Sweet Chilli Sauce contains approximately 14 teaspoons of sugar

Although fruit contains many nutrients which are essential to a healthy diet, it can also contain a lot of sugar. Blueberries, raspberries, honeydew melon and grapefruit have a low percentage of fructose whereas bananas, watermelon, grapes and mangoes contain much more fructose.

It may be time to take a step back and look at what we are consuming not only for our teeth but for our general well being as well.