Killing Us Sweetly – A Global Toothache

When we think of sugar, we often think about the refined white stuff. Sugar is often underestimated because of its incredible predominance in so much of what we consume.

The Easter holidays are often a time when families come together and exchange chocolate eggs. This can be an exciting, delicious time for everyone but do we know the amount of sugar in these Easter eggs that we are munching our way through?

Sugar

Irish researchers discovered that the average Easter Egg contains 72 teaspoons of sugar and that on average 20% of children celebrating Easter Sunday receive 5 chocolate eggs. To burn off this large amount of calorie intake the average person would have to run at 12kpm for over two hours.  (www.parentherald.com) Parents are being urged to check the new sugar app which is free to download in order to easily see the content within many favourite foods just by scanning the barcode. (Public Health England)

The points below show the most popular brands and their sugar content within a 110g Easter Egg

  • Nestle (Aero, Kitkat, Smarties, Toffee Crips) 61.60g
  • Mars 58.90g
  • Cadbury (Dairy Milk, Dairy Milk Caramel, Twirl, Crunchie. Wispa, Flake, Boost) 56.50g
  • Thorntons 54.00g
  • Guylian 50.00g
  • Lindt 41.00g
  • Ferrero Rocher 39.00g
  • Green and Black dark chocolate 28.50

(www.metro.co.uk/2016/03/21)

In the 2016 UK Budget, The Chancellor, George Osborne unveiled a new tax on sugary drinks such as Coca-Cola, Red Bull and Irn Bru, suggested at between 18p and 24p per litre. Osborn pledged to use the takings, an estimated £520m per year, to help provide more sports funding for schools. (www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-35824071) The UK sugar tax introduction only applies to drinks and not chocolate and cakes as these are seen primarily as ‘treat’ food whereas fizzy drinks are often consumed daily by both adults and children.

The World Health Organisation recommends that a woman should intake up to 20 grams (5 teaspoons) of sugar per day. A man should in take up to 36 grams (9 teaspoons) of sugar per day and for children 12 grams (3 teaspoons) per day. (http://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/) Nutrition experts advise only 5% of a person’s daily calories should be sugar. Too much sugar has effects on weight, tooth decay and increased the risks of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Refined sugar only really became part of our human diet over the last few hundred years and we probably should have added ‘refined sugar’ to the priority list of things that are, or may be, “Hazardous To Your Health” particularly as now we have the evidence and can see the increase in disease caused by our huge appetite and consumption of refined sugar and many other carbohydrates.

Internationally, in places like the UAE, the rapid increase in the availability of westernised food within the country combined with a traditional lifestyle, which involves little activity, has resulted in recent surveys showing one in 5 people now have type 2 diabetes due to the over consumption of sugar in their diet. (http://diabetesuae.ae/diabetes/)

It is estimated according to Credit Suisse’s Research Institute that in the US between 30%-40% of healthcare expenditure goes to help address the health issues that are closely related to the excessive consumption of sugar. Figures around the globe are set to rise further with greater impact on healthcare. In the US it is estimated that the national addiction to sugar runs to an incredible $1 trillion in healthcare costs annually. Data compiled as a result of excessive sugar consumption played a key role in the development of certain health conditions including coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, obesity, dental and oral issues to name but a few.

Statistics from the ‘worldwide sugar battleground’ paint a familiar picture. One such study; by the NAC IDF (North American and Caribbean Region of the International Diabetes Federation) http://www.idf.org/ released figures in 2015 specific to cases of Type 2 diabetes. The case study for Barbados, one of the 24 countries within the IDF NAC region showed that in 2015 with an approximate total adult population of 201,200 (20 – 79 year old) for the same period 34,100 type 2 diabetes cases were recorded. It also reported that there was a 17% prevalence of type 2 diabetes in the same age bracket and more alarming are the unrecorded cases estimated at just under 10,000 in the same period for the small island.

Sugar just may be the number one culprit in lowering the quality of life and in causing premature death.

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