The World Health Organisation has already recently lowered the recommended sugar limits to a maximum of 50g per day for the average adult (10% of daily energy intake) and advisers are looking at plans to reduce this to no more than 5% or 25g.
However, the researchers of a new study published in the journal BMC Public Health, have suggested that the target should be further reduced to 3%, especially in schools and nurseries.
The study, co-authored by Professor Aubrey Sheiham and Professor Philip James, plotted the average sugar intakes of different populations around the world against the levels of tooth decay.
They found that in countries where people had little or no added sugar in their diets, such as Nigeria, there was a very low percentage with tooth decay. However, in countries such as the USA where sugary food and drinks are common, 92% of adults were reported to have experience tooth decay.
In order to address the issue of tooth decay, the authors have suggested a number of government policy changes to help reduce the public’s sugar consumption.
Professor Philip James, stated that, “A fundamental aspect of public health planning is to develop society wide measures which impact on the health of the whole community. There now needs to be an explicit revision of population dietary goals as it relates to every aspect of government policy.”
“We need to make sure that use of fruit juices and the concept of sugar-containing treats for children are not only no longer promoted, but explicitly seen as unhelpful.
“Vending machines offering confectionary and sugary drinks in areas controlled or supported financially by local or central government should be removed. We are not talking draconian policies to ‘ban’ such sugar-rich products, which are available elsewhere, but no publicly-supported establishment should be contributing to the expensive problems of dental caries, obesity and diabetes.
“The food industry should be told that they should progressively reformulate their products to reduce or preferably remove all the sugars from their products. New food labels should label anything above 2.5% sugars as ‘high’. Given the politics of big business, the most governments may do is to reduce the limit from 10% to 5% but our paper suggests that it should be 2.5%.”
James also commented that a sugar tax should be developed to increase the cost of sugar-rich food and drinks and help tackle tooth decay as well as consumer demand.