How much sugar is hiding in your trolley?

One in three (32.1%) adults is walking around with untreated tooth decay.

Our addiction to sugar is one of the main culprits, which is frequently added to or hidden in food and drink. Studies have shown that most Australians consume an average of 14 tablespoons of sugar in a day— an astonishingly high amount compared to the maximum amount of six tablespoons a day to decrease the risk of tooth decay.

We all know about the sugar in cakes, cordials, ice cream and biscuits – but food manufacturers cleverly hide it in seemingly healthy foods like muesli bars, flavoured yoghurts, pasta sauces, tinned soups, salad dressings, tomato and BBQ sauces and marinades. In fact, there are up to fifty names for sugar, all contributing to tooth decay. These names include agave nectar, caramel, corn syrup, fructose, maltodextrin, rice malt, treacle, and many more.

Does the label indicate that there is too much sugar? Look at the sugar content per 100g serving – if it’s more than 15g consider an alternative with a lower sugar content.

Ideally look for food and drinks with less than 5g per 100g. Using the 100g column allows you to make a comparison between products – essentially it lets you compare ‘apples with apples’. Products also often hide added sugars by not pointing out their inclusion. By familiarising yourself with common names for sugar, you can identify the added sugars in the ingredient list. The closer the name is to the top of the list, the higher the quantity present in the product.

Products labelled ‘no added sugar’ are not exempt! While these products do not have any sugar added during the processing or cooking, they may still include a high amount of natural sugar that affect your teeth in the same way.