After studying the cost of tooth decay, health experts say our target sugar intake should be much lower than publicised

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If you struggle to make it through the morning without two sugars in your tea, then you might want to stop for a minute and think about what it might be doing to your teeth. The most important factor in the development of tooth decay, a new study has found that when children raise their intake of sugar from near-zero to just five per cent, tooth decay doubles.

Describing it as a "largely preventable disease", the researchers suggested that just three per cent of our energy intake should come from sugar - a marked difference to the old advice of 10 per cent and even less than the more recently published guidelines of five per cent. Co-author of the report, Prof Philip James, said tough action was needed and even called for vending machines offering sugary snacks to be removed from schools and hospitals.

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