FDI Publishes Guide on Sugars, Caries, and Policy Advocacy

Dentistry Today

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The World Dental Federation (FDI) has published “Sugars and Dental Caries—A Practical Guide to Reduce Sugars Consumption and Curb the Epidemic of Dental Caries” to support the advocacy work of FDI’s member associations in establishing and implementing goals for policy change.

“There is extensive scientific evidence showing that free sugars are the primary necessary factor in the development of dental caries,” said Harry-Sam Selikowitz, DDS, MSc, PhD, chair of the FDI Science Committee. “As oral health professionals, we see the damage done by sugar consumption and can advocate change, both to our patients and policy makers.”

The practical guide provides an overview and addresses the global challenge of reducing sugar consumption. It helps member associations set short-term and long-term objectives to achieve sustainable policies to reduce the intake of free sugars. Measures suggested include the promotion of education campaigns, increased taxes, restricted advertising, and data gathering.

“National dental associations play an important role in translating key findings into widespread policies to reduce dietary sugar consumption,” said Selikowitz. “[They] can encourage dentists to take part as advocates, to ensure that an oral health component is incorporated in general health and education policies.”

The guide fully supports the recommendations made in the “Guideline: Sugars Intake for Adults and Children” published by the World Health Organization (WHO) stating that sugar should make up less than 10% of total energy intake per day and less than 5% (about 25 grams or 6 teaspoons) for additional health benefits.

The FDI released its guidelines as part of the current global sugar discussion, including WHO’s recommendations for taxing sugary drinks by 20% or more to reduce consumption and improve nutrition. The beverage industry responded to WHO’s recommendations by saying that soda taxes don’t work, despite evidence to the contrary, and that they punish the poor.

“This argument brushes aside the fact that it is precisely the poor who suffer most greatly from diet-related diseases. Soda is liquid candy that meets no nutritional needs,” said WHO director-general Margaret Chan. “If fiscal policies reduce soda consumption among the poor, this is a huge and most desirable victory for health.”

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