• Dental decay is the most common chronic disease in the world [1]
  • NEW research calls for very low added sugar intake throughout life e.g. 2–3% of energy intake – 4 teaspoons per day (15g)  [2] – to help reduce dental decay in adulthood
  • Previous analyses based on children have misled public health analyses on sugars [2]
  • Letter in the Lancet calls for Dentists to be at the forefront in the fight against sugar [3]

For media coverage, click here

A new paper published in Public Health Nutrition Journal by two expert advisors of Action on Sugar [4] calls for sugar intake to be less than 3% of energy intake, which is even less than the recent draft World Health Organisations guideline of less than 5% of energy intake (25g teaspoons of sugar) [5].

Sugars are undoubtedly the most important dietary factor in the development of dental decay [6] - the most common chronic disease in the world [1].

Treating dental decay accounts for 6–10 % of total health costs in industrialized countries, even though there has been a decline in dental decay levels in many countries [7-8].

Nutritionist and Campaign Director of Action on Sugar, Katharine Jenner says:
"Added sugars are completely unnecessary in our diets and are strongly linked to dental decay as well as to obesity and Type II Diabetes. We urge the World Health Organisation and the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) in the UK to take this evidence on board.”

Professor Aubrey Sheiham, Emeritus Professor of Dental Public Health and co-author of the study says: “The recommendation that sugar intake should be less than 10% of energy intake is no longer acceptable. Nutrition advice on sugar needs to be renewed NOW – added sugar intake should be at least less than 5% of energy intake.

"Tooth decay is one of the most widespread health problems and it is thought around a third of UK children aged 12 have visible tooth decay” [9]. Added sugar has found its way into almost all food, and the use of sugar as a means to calm, entertain, or reward children has become normalised, whereas sugar should be an occasional treat. The government must stop acting in the best interests of the food and drink industry rather than individuals, and take action on sugar now.”


Notes to Editor
For more information contact:
● National PR - David Clarke: 07773 225516

Tweet #LessSugar

1. Petersen PE, Bourgeois D, Ogawa H, Estupinan-Day S, Ndiaye C. The global burden of oral diseases and risks to oral health. Bulletin of the World Health Organization 2005;83:661-9.

2. Sheiham A, James WP. A new understanding of the relationship between sugars, dental caries and fluoride use: implications for limits on sugars consumption. Public health nutrition 2014:1-9.

3. Masood M, Masood Y, Reidpath DD, Newton T. Dentists should be at the forefront in the fight against sugar. The Lancet 2014;383:2046.

4. Professor Aubrey Sheiham, Emeritus Professor of Dental Public Health, School of Life and Medical Sciences, University College London
Professor Philip James, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK, and World Obesity, London, UK
Action on Sugar is a group of specialists concerned with sugar and its effects on health. It is working to reach a consensus with the food industry and Government over the harmful effects of a high sugar diet, and to bring about a reduction in the amount of sugars in processed foods. Action on Sugar is supported by 21 expert advisors.

5. WHO. WHO opens public consultation on draft sugars guideline. 2014. (accessed June 2014).

6. Moynihan PJ, Kelly SA. Effect on Caries of Restricting Sugars Intake: Systematic Review to Inform WHO Guidelines. J Dent Res 2014;93:8-18.

7. Beaglehole R, Benzian H, Crail J et al. (2009) The Oral Health Atlas: Mapping a Neglected Global Health Issue. Brighton: Myriad Editions.

8. Patel R (2012) The State of Oral Health in Europe.