'Cut back on sugary foods if you want to keep your own teeth' - experts say

The Northern Echo: Cut sugar intake Cut sugar intake

RESEARCHERS in the North-East are urging everyone to cut down on sugary foods to protect their teeth against decay.

A study by Newcastle University academics recommends cutting down on added sugar as part of a global initiative to reduce tooth decay.

Since 1990 the World Health Organisation (WHO) has recommended that intake of "free sugars" should be less than 10 per cent of the total intake of calories.

Free sugars are sugars that are added to foods plus those naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit concentrates.

The Newcastle University study, commissioned by the WHO and published in the Journal of Dental Research recognises the benefit of this threshold, by showing that when less than 10 per cent of total calories in the diet is made up of free sugars there are much lower levels of tooth decay.

And the research findings go even further, suggesting that halving this to less than five per cent of calories - around five teaspoons a day - would bring further benefits, minimising the risk of dental cavities throughout life.

Oral health expert Professor Paula Moynihan, from Newcastle University said:  "People now expect to keep their teeth into old age and given that the effects of sugars on our teeth are lifelong then limiting sugars to less than five per cent of the calories we eat would minimise the risk of dental caries throughout life.

"Sugary foods and drinks are now staples in many people's diet in industrialised countries, whereas once they were an occasional treat for a birthday or Christmas. We need to reverse this trend."

Prof Moynihan added: "The public need better information on the health risks of sugary foods and drinks and there needs to be clearer information on the levels of sugars in our foods and drinks."



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