This week is Sugar Awareness Week. A campaign designed to help raise awareness of the damaging effect of having too much sugar in our diet. Most people now know that sugar isn’t just bad for your teeth, but it could also be damaging to your health.
Too much sugar can cause tooth decay, and this can be a particular problem for children. NHS figures show that there were more than 45,000 hospital operations to remove rotten teeth from teenagers and children in 2017/18. The severity of the tooth decay is leading to the drastic measure of teeth being extracted under general anaesthetic in hospital.
There are many causes and contributing factors that can cause type 2 diabetes. However, a high-sugar diet has been linked with an increased incidence of type 2 diabetes. The link between sugar and obesity likely causes this.
In 2016 in England, 40% of men and 30% of women were overweight, and 26% of adults were classified as obese.
Excessive unhealthy food and sugary soft drink consumption have been linked to weight gain. It provides a significant and unnecessary source of calories with little or no nutritional value.
Is all sugar bad for me?
It’s important to understand there are two main types of sugars to be aware of – naturally occurring sugars and free sugars. Naturally occurring sugars are found in whole fruits, vegetables and milk-based products, and these are not considered harmful for health. Free sugars are anything we add in ourselves or are added in during the manufacturing process. This includes honey, glucose, fructose etc. Free sugars can come in many forms. They also include obvious things such as cakes, sweets and biscuits.
Why are fruit juices and smoothies classed as bad for me?
Whole fruits can be a good source of vitamins, minerals and fibre. When you buy a shop-bought smoothie, it contains a significant amount of sugar and is often highly processed. A small homemade smoothie is a healthier juice if a smoothie is a must for you.
When you juice a fruit, the natural sugars are released from within the cell walls of the fruit and become ‘free sugars’.
How much sugar can I have a day?
- Children age four and under: There’s no guideline limit for children under four, it is recommended they avoid sugary drinks and food with sugar added to it.
- Children aged five to six: shouldn’t have any more than five teaspoons that is 19 grams of free sugar a day.
- Children aged seven to eleven: should have no more than six teaspoons (24 grams) of a sugar per day.
- Adults and children over eleven should limit their sugar to no more than seven teaspoons (28 grams) of sugar per day.
How can I cut down on my sugar?
A good place to start is watching what you drink. Many of the free sugars we consume now are through soft drinks.