In 1971, the National Caries Program (NCP) was launched by the National Institute of Dental Research (NIDR). The goal of the program was to determine what could be done to eliminate tooth decay within a decade. The sugar industry redirected the researchers away from any data that could implicate sugar as a cause of cavities. The information that was provided to the study researchers was cherry-picked to deflect the culpability of sugar as a root cause.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recommended limiting added sugars to prepared foods and fruit juices. The World Sugar Research Organisation (WSRO), a trade organization representing more than 30 international members with economic interests in the cane and beet sugar industry (i.e., Coca Cola in the U.S.) successfully blocked the 2003 WHO/FAO joint committee recommendation from becoming WHO policy. The recommendation was then watered down to be relatively non-specific.
As early as 1950, sugar was recognized as a product that damaged teeth. “There is evidence tending to show that carbohydrates, including sugar, and perhaps other food types, are implicated in tooth decay.” The sugar industry funded studies to deflect the implications that sugar was directly correlated to, but did not deny, that sucrose played a role in dental caries (cavities). The sugar industry heavily influenced federal research—as well as the guidelines that resulted from that research.
There have been missed opportunities along the way to restrict added sugars through policy. Again last year, WHO resurrected these recommendations in light of the prevalence of tooth decay worldwide.
This is just another sign that the food industry protects itself from potentially damaging research that can affect its bottom line. We as consumers must be our own advocates and not support industries that knowingly provide potentially harmful substances in our foods. We must speak with our pocketbooks and buy only foods without added sugars (including artificial sweeteners). Whole, natural foods – and primarily organic foods – have provided nutrition for humans since we came into existence. It is only been since we moved towards more convenient foods and a rushed lifestyle that we have increased our sugar consumption and decreased our overall health, not just tooth decay.
Be part of the #RealFoodRevolution – buy unprocessed foods. Don’t support manufacturers that fill their products with added sugars. We can make a difference if we move towards a healthier lifestyle and refuse to be held hostage by the addictive qualities of these industrialized foods that are directly related to harmful side effects including tooth decay, obesity and Type 2 diabetes.