First Step to Shake Off Sugar – as told by a Dentist

That sweet taste of sugar.  A delicious dessert, a sweet kopi (coffee) or fruit juice.  Sugar seems to be everywhere and is in most of the foods and drinks we consume on a daily basis.  Recently, it has gained the attention of the media and amongst the health profession. So what’s the deal?

According to the Health Promotion Board, if you’ve drunk a 250ml fruit juice today, that is four teaspoons of sugar which will take 13 minutes of jogging to burn off. If you’ve drank a single canned soft drink every day in the week, that is 49 teaspoons of sugar and equates to 2 hours of jogging.

The average Singaporean consumes around 11 teaspoons of sugar a day – that’s a 28 minute jog to burn off!¹

The HPB launched the campaign ‘Life’s Sweeter with Less Sugar’ to raise awareness island wide about the importance of reducing sugar in our diets.  Internationally, Dr. Robert Lustig a paediatric endocrinologist from the University of California, presents in his lecture, ‘Sugar – The bitter truth’, horrifying evidence relating to the detrimental health effects of ingesting sugar².

(You may be interested to read “Chinese New Year is Saved From Sugar By This Badass Kung-Fu Fighter“)

Did you know that sugar is addictive?  Did you know that the main reason we put on weight is because of sugar?  Did you know that there are a multitude of health risks associated with sugar?

What is sugar?

A sugar is a carbohydrate that is soluble in water.  Monosaccharides are ‘single’ unit sugars or simple sugars (glucose and fructose) and disaccharides consist of molecules where two monosaccharides are joined together (sucrose).

There are two types of sugar in our diets:

  • Naturally occurring sugars – found naturally in foods (fruit – fructose and milk – lactose).
  • Added sugars – include any sugars or sweeteners added to foods or beverages during processing or preparation.  These may include natural sugars such as white sugar, brown sugar or honey4.

It seems as though many of us have no idea of how the ‘white stuff’ actually affects our bodies. As it is in most processed foods, in various or hidden forms, we may not be consciously aware that we are actually eating or drinking a lot of sugar. 

While we may strive to avoid chocolate and cakes, hidden sugars found in tomato sauce, fat free dressings and breads may be unknowingly affecting our bodies.

You may find it surprising to hear that a 330ml can of ‘CocaCola’ contains 35 grams of sugar (9 teaspoons), which is double the World Health Organisation’s recommended daily intake³.

Stay tuned for Part 2 where we will cover health issues associated with sugar.


Contributed by Dr Surinder Arora, Integrative Dentist and Health Coach.


1 ‘Life is sweeter with less sugar’ Health Promotion Board, Singapore, 2015

2 ‘Sugar:The Bitter Truth’ University of California Television, Robert Lustig, 2011

‘The skinny on obesity’  University of California Television, Robert Lustig, 2012 WHO calls on countries to reduce sugar intake in adults and children, World Health Association, March 2015 ‘Sugar 101’ American Heart Association, June 2015

Photo Credits: Global Young Voices, Amherst Times

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