Teeth face constant hidden sugar 'onslaught'

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At the end of the week, many of us will consume huge amounts of sugar as we celebrate Easter.

A dentist says that we should assume that we are eating sugar at every mealtime even in savoury meals

But are you really aware of how much sugar you eat every day already?

I've given up refined sugar for Lent, and throughout this week you will be able to follow my progress.

Since the 1980s, British sugar consumption has increased by more than a third.

We're sprinkling less over our cereals and puddings and putting less in our tea, but we're actually eating more.

I've discovered exactly why this is since I gave up refined sugar on 9 March. Sugar is in more foods than I could ever have imagined.

The first big problem I encounter is bread.

Some sugar is essential to activate the yeast, but manufacturers often add extra to give the bread a crispy crust and make it taste sweeter.

Start Quote

Many items that you would normally think of as wholesome and savoury in fact contain hidden sugars”

End Quote Kieran Fallon Dentist

Ciabatta rolls don't have sugar listed in the ingredients so, on day two of my no-sugar diet, I'm looking forward to a dinner of a chicken and bacon sandwich with mayonnaise and pesto spread on a ciabatta roll.

But there's a problem. I read the ingredients list on the mayonnaise and the pesto only to discover both have sugar added. I never imagined sugar would be in these.

Kieran Fallon, a dentist in the north east of Glasgow, tells me: "Almost every meal you give a child or eat yourself will contain some sugar.

"Many items that you would normally think of as wholesome and savoury in fact contain hidden sugars."

We've met in my local supermarket. Mr Fallon picks a jar of tomato soup off the shelf.

"Tomato soup is very popular with children and as a family meal but when you check the ingredients on the back you see that it contains sugar, and in fact it's quite a significant amount of sugar," he says.

The same goes for many other types of soup, particularly tinned soup.

Sugar onslaught

As a member of the British Dental Association, Mr Fallon is concerned by the effect all this sugar is having.

Our teeth are being subjected to an onslaught of sugar all day long.

He continued: "What we advise is to keep all your sugar to mealtimes.

"So if the kids want a sweet treat or some chocolate give them that as part of lunch or dinner and in between meals focus very clearly on avoiding anything that contains sugar."

Mr Fallon suggests fresh whole fruit (not fruit juice) or cheese as snacks between meals.

But beware - Mr Fallon shows me the ingredient list of several processed cheese products mostly aimed at children. They have sugar added.

Lesson one of my no-sugar diet: always read the label.

Tuesday: breakfast is a particular problem for me but I find out from Kelloggs that reducing sugar levels isn't as simple as it sounds.

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