Denplan is urging the British public to go sugar-fee for September, following the results of its latest survey of over 2,000 adults1, which has shown a desperate need for better sugar education as Britons think chocolate, sweets and fruit juice contain no sugar.
It appears the public are clueless when it comes to sussing sugar in foods, as one in five (21%) don’t believe chocolate contains sugar, with the same amount (22%) thinking biscuits are sugar-free too. Drinks are not immune from sugar ignorance either, with almost half (47%) of respondents believing that neither wine or beer contain sugar. Perhaps more worryingly, over a third (38%) of people asked did not know that fruit juice contained sugar, despite warnings from Action on Sugar that many juices contain at least six teaspoons of sugar - more than cola2.
Other food and drinks which respondents believed were free of sugar included the below:
- Sweets (20%)
- Hot chocolate (30%)
- Fruit (40%)
- Spirits (58%)
- Fizzy drinks (20%)
- Sports drinks (26%)
- Energy drinks (28%)
This worrying lack of knowledge could be reaping havoc on the nation’s teeth. Many patients are not aware that each time sugar is consumed, teeth are under acid attack for up to one hour, producing harmful acids and increasing the risk of tooth decay. Some are also unaware that fizzy drinks could be just as harmful to the teeth and that carbon dioxide gas is used to create bubbles in fizzy drinks, which then turns into a very dilute acid in the drink. This exposure to dilute acid can lead to the dissolving of tooth enamel if consumed on a regular basis.
The new results also showed a clear need for more clarity on labelling of products, as 54% admitted that they wanted to reduce their sugar consumption, but just one in five respondents could decipher whether a product contains sugar by reading ingredient labels. 80% said they don’t always check the list of ingredients before buying or eating food, and over a third of respondents (38%) said they didn’t know the difference between ‘sugar-free’ and ‘no added sugar’.
Whilst this low level of knowledge may seem surprising, it’s now harder than ever to avoid sugar, even in unexpected foods such as bread, sauces, flavoured water drinks and canned soups. And looking at the labels for sugar content isn’t always straightforward, as there are over 30 different names for sugar – including fructose, lactose, glucose, and dextrose.
Although a range of diets have advocated a low or no-sugar approach over the last year, in reality, less than half of respondents had tried to quit sugar, and less than 10% have successfully done so for more than a year, with a quarter lasting less than a month.
Henry Clover, Deputy Chief Dental Officer at Denplan said “With sugar ‘hidden’ in so many unexpected foods and drinks, managing our daily sugar consumption can be a challenge. Not only is this detrimental for the nation’s general health, it can also significantly affect our oral health because the frequency at which we consume sugar is a huge factor in tooth decay. However, there are so many simple changes people can make on a daily basis to cut back on unwanted sugar and still enjoy a healthy and tasty diet, leaving them with healthy habits that their teeth will thank them for.”
Worried about the lack of knowledge surrounding sugar consumption, Denplan are urging Brits to go sugar-free for September. Logging on to www.sugar-free-september.co.uk will give patients access to information on hidden sugars, reveal the health risks of too much sugar consumption, provide tips on how to cut back on sugar and explain the importance of regular dentist visits and a better oral health regime.
1 A Onepoll survey of 2,000 participants conducted in May 2015