Fall is here, and that means one thing: cafes and coffee shops around the country are breaking out their seasonal pumpkin- flavored beverages. These tasty drinks are a fall highlight for many people looking for a little pick-me-up as the cold weather moves in, but as tasty as they may be, our favorite pumpkin drinks may actually pose a health risk. A recent study showed that sugar is the main cause of tooth decay world wide, and one of the biggest sources of sugar in the U.S. are sweet beverages.
Research conducted by the University College London and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine looked at the incidence of tooth decay as it relates to sugar intake among different countries all over the world, according toTime magazine. After combing through public health records from various countries, researchers discovered that the United States had some of the highest rates of tooth decay caused by sugar intake, with approximately 92% of adults experiencing tooth decay. In contrast, records from Nigeria indicated that only 2% of people in the country suffered from tooth decay, due to the low amount of sugar in a typical Nigerian diet.
Authors of the study explained that health records from Japan proved to be particularly revealing. There was no sugar intake during or after World War II, and tooth decay during this time was at a minimum. When the country once again importing sugar, rates of tooth decay shot back up, showing an obvious connection between the two.
Experts say that countries with high incidences of tooth decay, like the U.S., need to make a drastic change to their diets if they are going to combat this epidemic. The World Health Organization recommends that sugar should account for only 5% of a person’s calories from their daily food intake, though many believe this is an unattainable number and recommend keeping it under 10%.
One of the main sources of sugar in many people’s diets comes from sugary drinks like soda and fruit juices, both of which are readily available in vending machines and restaurants across the United States. Cutting back on these super-sweet beverages is necessary in order to prevent tooth decay, but many experts also think the government needs to step in to control the amount of sugary snacks and drinks available. Whether the government gets involved or not, it is important for people to start taking better care of their teeth and monitoring the amount of sugar they eat on a daily basis.