Sugar: impact wider than tooth decay?

10Just recently the World Health Organization and government health advisers in England have called for cuts to the recommendations for sugar consumption amidst concerns of the rising financial and health costs relating to tooth decay.   

The suggested targets were that sugar should account for no more than 5% of energy intake – half the current recommendation of 10%.  This is still higher than recommendations from a study published in the BMC Public Health Journal, which suggested that the target should be a maximum of 3%.

Whilst sales of sugar for the table and home baking have steadily declined since the 1970s, the shortfall has now been over-compensated by the consumption of sugar in processed foods, which in 2007 accounted for 568g per person, per week.  Today, sugar makes up 12.3% of adult’s diets, 14.6% of children’s between four and ten, to an alarming 15.3% of children’s between 11 and 18.

Affi Khan, managing director of RIG Locums, discusses the impact of increasing sugar consumption on the healthcare system, arguing it spans far wider than tooth decay.

“Whilst the focus of the report has been on tooth decay, the longer term effects of sugar on health shouldn’t be ignored.  On the ground we are seeing a steady increase in demand for locum cardiologists, diabetes doctors locums and ophthalmologist locums.  All of these specialities are under strain due to the increasing prevalence of conditions such as obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes, of which excessive sugar consumption is known to be a key contributory factor.

The revision of targets should be welcomed as a means of helping the public make better informed decisions about the food they consume.  This in turn should help prevent the disease from occurring in the first place and help to relieve some of the mounting strain on the NHS – not just in dental practices, but in hospitals too.”

RIG Locums is a leading supplier of locum doctors to the NHS.  To find out more, visit