When you think of the components of an unhealthy diet, it’s likely that the first thing you think about is fat. But did you realise that sugar is causing disastrous health issues?
Sugar content is not always something people think about, but overconsumption of sugar can lead to a whole host of health issues such as tooth decay, obesity and type 2 diabetes as well as visceral fat buildup which can cause heart disease and some cancers.
A recent PHE report found that 10% of all four to five-year-olds are obese and almost 20% of ten to eleven-year-olds — that’s nearly one in five. The report stated that “If the nation dropped its sugar intake to recommended levels within 10 years, over 4,000 early deaths and over 200,000 cases of tooth decay would be avoided.”
Sugar: The Secret Ingredient
Did you know that sugar is often added to low-fat food to improve the flavour and texture? It is also commonly present in salad dressing, white bread, cereal snack bars and baby foods. Sugars make food moreish and increase the desire to snack. Young children are, on average, consuming around 22 kg of added sugar a year — that’s around 60 grams a day, more than twice the recommended limit for adults and three times the limit for under sixes.
You might think the most obvious offender is chocolate (at 24 grams of sugar per bar) but the main culprit is actually fizzy drinks (at around 36 grams of sugar per can). Fizzy drinks make up around 30% of the sugar in children’s diets.
Daily Recommended Maximum Sugar
Maximum daily dose isn’t just for fat and calories — it applies to sugar as well. Four to six-year-olds should be having no more than 19 grams of added sugar daily with seven to ten-year-olds having no more than 24 grams. After the age of 11 you should be having no more than 30 grams sugar daily — this includes adults too!
How The Sugar Smart App Works
The Sugar Smart App scans the barcodes of your shopping and informs you about the sugar content of the food and drink you are buying, helping you to make the best choices for your — and your family’s — health.
Other Ways You Should Be Looking After Your Child’s Teeth
Dental health for your children doesn’t begin and end with sugar consumption. It is key that at a young age they develop a regular dental routine. Start brushing their teeth as soon as their first milk tooth appears, brushing twice a day for two minutes. They should be using fluoride toothpaste to prevent tooth decay, at a level of around 1350-1500 parts per million. Children shouldn’t use ‘whitening’ brands at any point.
You should supervise your child’s brushing, making sure that their technique is correct — why not brush your teeth together so they can see how? Children under three should only have a smear of toothpaste, with children between three and six having a pea-sized blob. Make sure they don’t eat the toothpaste when you’re not looking! Try and have a bathroom mirror at their height so they can see what they’re doing. When they’re done, they should spit out excess toothpaste but they shouldn’t rinse — fluoride from the toothpaste needs to stay in their mouth to protect their teeth.
Take them to the dentist when their first tooth appears so they can get to know the dentist and learn to be relaxed in that environment — your dentist will have the best and most up-to-date advice about caring for developing teeth. See them as regularly as they advise.
Ask your dentist for their advice about sugar and dental care if you’re unsure; it’s always better to be safe than sorry!