How Much Sugar is Too Much?

Sugar has found itself the most recent persona non grata in the world of health and wellness. Within the last three years, the surge against sugar has been fierce. NYTimes published a long-form piece asking a bold question: Is Sugar Toxic? Scientific American also examined the evidence, as did dozens of other publications. Most recently, a team of health scientists at the University of California, San Francisco launched a website to educate the public about the negative effects of added sugar, called SugarScience.org. Katie Couric also produced and narrated a popular food documentary with the title: Fed Up. A glimpse at their website reveals a crusade against sugar, asking viewers to participate in a 10-day sugar-free challenge.

We all know that too much sugar can have a negative effect on our health. Kids go crazy, we gain weight, and our moods shift rapidly. We even know that sugar has a negative effect on our teeth. But how much is too much?

In the US, around 92% of adults ages 20-64 have experienced a cavity, according to Medical News Today. Sugar causes cavities by giving bacteria a feast. Bacteria in your mouth causes plaque and enamel-eroding acid to flourish, resulting in decreased oral health.

The World Health Organization recently adopted new guidelines, claiming that sugar intake should be reduced from 10% of daily calories to 5%. They would like to see an even further reduction to 3% in the future.

WebMD provides a table for daily calorie intake:

Gender Age (years) Sedentaryb Moderately Activec Actived
Child 2-3 1,000 1,000-1,400 1,000-1,400
Female 4-8
9-13
14-18
19-30
31-50
51+
1,200
1,600
1,800
2,000
1,800
1,600
1,400-1,600
1,600-2,000
2,000
2,000-2,200
2,000
1,800
1,400-1,800
1,800-2,200
2,400
2,400
2,200
2,000-2,200
Male 4-8
9-13
14-18
19-30
31-50
51+
1,400
1,800
2,200
2,400
2,200
2,000
1,400-1,600
1,800-2,200
2,400-2,800
2,600-2,800
2,400-2,600
2,200-2,400
1,600-2,000
2,000-2,600
2,800-3,200
3,000
2,800-3,000
2,400-2,800

There are two main organizations that publish guidelines for sugar consumption: The World Health Organization and the American Heart Association. The WHO recently reduced its target consumption percent to 5% of total calories, while the AHA currently recommends about getting only 100-150 calories from added sugar each day, depending on gender. There are about 4 calories per gram of sugar, so we can divide the total amount of calories we get by four to arrive at our daily guidelines. For moderately active men ages 31-50, these recommendations equal about 31 grams of added sugar per day. For women of the same nature, it amounts to 26g of added sugar per day.

In the end, this is a lofty goal, but one that would help reduce gum disease and leave the population with much stronger teeth.

If you have any questions or would like to schedule a free consultation, please contact our team or make an appointment and our incredible staff will give you the best dental care possible.

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