Sweet Tooth Anyone?

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Posted Fri, May 8, 2015

Sugary drinks, candies and sweets. (Photo By WHO /Christopher Black)

Sugary drinks, candies and sweets. (Photo By WHO /Christopher Black)

DENVER — Sweet tooth anyone? One of the widely popular tastes among children and adults is sugar.

“Soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages are the primary source of added sugars in Americans’ diets,” says World Health Organization’s Olivia Lawe Davies. “A single can of sugar-sweetened soda contains up to 40 grams (around 10 teaspoons) of free sugars.”

Recently, The World Health Organization came out with a recommendation for adults and children around the world to cut down there sugar intake to less than 10 percent.

“Reducing free sugars intake to less than 10 percent of total daily energy intake was recommended by the WHO Study Group for the first time in 1989,” Davies says. “This new updated WHO guideline calls for further reduction of free sugars intake to (be) less than 5 percent of total energy intake if possible.”

MSU Denver Nutrition Professor Dr. Cynthia Dormer responded with this, “I think it would be really tough to have the sugar intake to be less than 10 percent. I think that is a good psychology goal but not a life goal.”

However, Comfort Dental’s Dr. Sara Sybrant disagrees with Dr. Dormer saying, “Lowering sugar content by 10 percent would certainly be a big help.”

Alternatively, this is just a recommendation, countries like USA don’t have to follow them, but they are there if they so desire.

“Countries can translate the recommendations into food-based dietary guidelines that consider locally available food and customs. Additionally, some countries are implementing other public health interventions to reduce free sugars intake,” Davies says. “These include nutrition labeling of food products, restricting marketing to children of food and non-alcoholic drinks that are high in free sugars, fiscal policies targeting foods and beverages high in free sugars, and dialogue with food manufacturers to reduce free sugars in processed foods.”

The most popular sugar is Saccharose because it is mainly used in processed foods. Many processed foods are consider fast food, candy and soda pop. Those sugars are not only causing a problem with a child’s weight, but also with their oral health especially in Colorado.

“Added sugars are horrible for the teeth, especially when combined in a carbonated beverage[s]—we recommend swishing with water after drinking sugar beverages, but children under the age

Like Most children Aidan loves pop tarts and sugar drinks and snacks. (Photo by Dylan Palm-Trujillo)

Like Most children Aidan loves pop tarts and sugar drinks and snacks. (Photo by Dylan Palm-Trujillo)

of 18 should be drinking little to no soda pop,” Sybrant says.

Today, more and more professionals have come out to say that tooth decay is a common chronic infection in kids. According to the American Dentist Association, “more than one in five Americans have untreated cavities and a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People aged 20 to 44 had the highest rate of untreated cavities, at 25 percent. It is estimated that pain from untreated dental disease results in millions of missed school and work hours.”

Dr. Patty Braun, a pediatrician at Denver Health says that tooth decay, “Caries the most chronic condition of children and disparately impacts children of low socioeconomic status. Low-income children carry the heavy burden of the disease. Eighty percent of the disease exists in 20 percent of the population. Cavities result in pain, hospitalizations, trips to the emergency room and operating room, many missed hours of school, low oral health quality of life and more. It is considered the ‘silent epidemic’ and long overlooked, [especially] in low-income children.”

Still with the concern of a child’s life ending right in from us, why are schools still continuing to sell soda pop and unhealthy snacks inside vending machines?

Dr. Dormer said that the need for money tends to overpower the need for nutrition because schools starve for money. On the other hand, Davies states that governments do care about our children, but noted that, “There are guidelines for the provision of healthy food in schools in many countries, although they are not always implemented.”

Still, research shows schools are still proving those vending machines. Braun says, “Typically, beverages such as soda are cheap and easily consumed. To improve the health of children and

Indra K. Nooyi, PepsiCo Chairman and CEO sits a table surrounded by PepsiCo, Inc products (Photo provided by PepsiCo, Inc)

Indra K. Nooyi, PepsiCo Chairman and CEO sits a table surrounded by PepsiCo, Inc products (Photo provided by PepsiCo, Inc)

others, we would like to see healthier choices available to us all, e.g. water. Some schools are removing sugar-sweetened beverages from their campuses. Others have not.”

According to the National School Lunch Program, they are working towards making sure every child has access to those healthier choices that Braun mention. The new standards for school lunches, and the incentive of federal funds (six cents per lunch) for the schools which meet these new standards, are helping in the effort. The school lunch changes include: more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, a shift to low-fat or nonfat milk, and limits on calories, sodium, and unhealthy fats.

However, as schools try to take tooth decay out, the sad part is parents are still allowing the consumption of sugar. So, what can parents do so that they can reduce sugar?

Dr. Dormer says, “Parents could make individualized fruit juice Popsicles for kids to have after dinner,” because she believes life is too short to cut sugar totally out of your body. Davies agrees but took it one step further. She’s says “Parents have a major role to play to ensure their children have a healthy diet (e.g. having water at mealtimes instead of sugary drinks).”

What other ways can kids lower their intake? One way is being able to plan your meals and snacks. Planning help take kids’ minds off of sugar and instead of having the feeling of needing sugar.  For example, if you plan for apples and nuts for lunch, well then you’ll get that for lunch! However, if you don’t plan your meals then vending machines and fast food await with their sugars and chemicals. Another way is to bake more often with your kids. What this can do is allow parents to use less sugar and replace it with pureed fruit, which is a score!

With all these problems comes solutions that dentists and other patricians want you and your kids to follow. Hopefully after reading this, your kids will say give me an apple and instead of wanting Ice Cream.

Top Sources of Added Sugar in the Diet and Percentages (Source: American Dentist Association).  

  1. Soft drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks, 35.7%
  2. Grain-based desserts (cakes, pies) 12.9%
  3. Fruit drinks 10.5%
  4. Dairy-based desserts (ice cream) 6.5%
  5. Candy 6.1%
  6. Ready-to-eat cereals 3.8%
  7. Sugars and honey 3.5%
  8. Tea (sweetened) 3.5%
  9. Yeast breads 2.1%
  10. All other foods 15.4%
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About Dylan Palm-Trujillo

Dylan Palm-Trujillo is a Freelance Writer/Photographer for the Metropolitan and Metro Post -Telegraph. He has had work published by Westword Denver and Johnstown Breeze while being a student at Metro. Moreover, he has done a PR internship as well as a reporting Internship. Further, he is a Metro State Student currently studying Convergent Journalism and expects to graduate in the fall of 2015.

View all posts by Dylan Palm-Trujillo

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