I often remark to my patients that their Grandad probably never drank a can of Coke. This may not be entirely true of course but what is certain is that in my generation fizzy soda drinks became entirely normailsed and now we have multi coloured chilled cabinets to greet and entice us in every garage cafe and supermarket. Some of these drinks claim to give you wings, others make you much better at sport …! All of them contain ridiculous amonts of sugar and deliver it in an acidity that is very harmful to your teeth. And No the diet versions are not a whiole lot better. We are quite simply being bombarded with sugar and we seem to like it very much. The Donghnut craze in Blanchardstown when Krispy Kreme opened their doors had to be seen to be believed. When Nutella discounted their super sized tubs in some supermarkets in France last year riots erupted. I kid you not. Riots ! Incidentally the average family sized jar of Nutella contains 54 spoons of sugar. And its not a chocolate spread. Its Hazelnut. Thats what makes it healthier. Just like Coco Pops are ‘Rich in Vitamin E’. Pardon me, but what’s the brown stuff on them? Could it possibly be chocolate..? For breakfast ?
It’s time we realised that sugar is a highly addictive drug. We can survive perfectly well without processed sugars but they are incredibly hard to avoid in processed foods. The food industry has us entirely addicted to sugar from a very early age. We were reared on Farleys Rusks and now its tiny highly sugared kiddies yoghurts. If we start our children on a sugar diet it will be extremely difficult to break their habit and the industry knows this very well. If you offer your child free access to anything they want from the kitchen they won’t come back with a stick of celery that’s for certain. They will choose the sweetest thing they can find, becuause they like sugar very much indeed.
Its very hard for the Mum who’s shopping for the family. The kids want sugar. Im not pretending for a minute that its easy and the food industry keeps it that way. Why else don’t they put sugar lumps on their packaging so we can see what we are buying ? It’s very difficult for the shopper to interpret labels and quicky assess the sugar content. This is not just about tooth decay. It’s about our health and fitness, Diabetes and Obesity. You only have to see who the big players are in the food sector and they are the sugar giants Nestle, Coca Cola, Kellogs Mars, etc. These guys have massive lobbying power. Make no mistake, Sugar rules ok.
4 Grams of sugar equals 1 teaspoons. We should try to keep our daily intake to 24g of processed sugar or 6 teaspoons. Try it for a while, its quite a challenge. Grandad would have managed it far more easily !
Dr Conor Irwin
Ratoath Dental and Implant Centre