Practical guide on sugars and dental caries now available for FDI member associations

22 December 2016 Sugar

FDI just published ‘Sugars and Dental Caries – A practical guide to reduce sugars consumption and curb the epidemic of dental caries’. The aim is to support the advocacy work of FDI 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. As oral health professionals, we see the damage done by sugar consumption and can advocate change – both to our patients and policy makers."
Dr Harry-Sam Selikowitz, Chair of FDI Science Committee

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


"National Dental Associations play an important role in translating key findings into widespread policies to reduce dietary sugar consumption. [They] can encourage dentists to take part as advocates, to ensure that an oral health component is incorporated in general health and education policies."
Dr Harry-Sam Selikowitz, Chair of FDI Science Committee

The practical guide fully supports the recommendations made in the ‘Guideline: Sugars intake for adults and children’ published by the World Health Organization (WHO). These state that sugar intake should make up less than 10% of total energy intake per day – and less than 5% (roughly 25 grams or 6 teaspoons) for additional health benefits.

The WHO guideline was also last year’s key subject of debate during the World Oral Health Forum (WOHF) at FDI’s World Dental Congress. ‘Proceedings of the WOHF 2015 – New WHO Guideline on sugars intake for adults and children’ have just been released featuring top-level panellists from the fields of nutrition and oral health.

Taxing sugary drinks

The timing of FDI’s publications on sugar – the practical guide and the proceedings – is more relevant than ever given the global attention sugar has received over the last two years. In October 2016, WHO released a report backing the taxing of sugary drinks by 20% or more to result in lower sugar consumption and improved nutrition.

The industry’s response was rapid and predicable: First, soda taxes do not work, despite evidence to the contrary. Second, soda taxes are regressive as 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,” noted WHO Director-General Margaret Chan in a recent keynote address at the 9th Global Conference on Health Promotion. “If fiscal policies reduce soda consumption among the poor, this is a huge and most desirable victory for health.”

FDI Sugars and Dental Caries Toolkit coverSugars and Dental Caries Toolkit

Published December 2016

This practical guide provides useful information on sugars and its effects on oral health. It aims to reduce sugars consumption and curb the epidemic of dental caries.


This infographic on Sugars is an example of how to display key information. Use it in your advocacy and awareness efforts by reproducing it in your publications and sharing in your social networks.

> Download in PDF format

Sugars and Dental Caries infographic