Sugar consumption may be a public health danger, particularly for infants and children who consume large quantities and can form an addiction to it. Sugar can be condemned for its proven ill effects on teeth, but there is also evidence to show that it is a causative factor in heart disease, either on its own or as a result of interaction with the effects of coffee consumption and smoking. In some people, sugar consumption leads to a complex hormonal response which may eventually result in chronically high insulin levels. The latter correlates with coronary disease. Sugar has also been accused of contributing to obesity, diabetes, indigestion, poor eyesight, dermatitis, early puberty, ulcers, gall stones, gout and premature ageing. Sugar contains no vitamins, protein, fibre or trace elements.
A 1991 British study estimates that the average man eats 115 grams of sugar per day, of which 87 grams are refined and the rest naturally present in food, and women consume 86 grams in total, of which 60 grams are refined. Even natural foods that taste sweet contain some form of sugar, such as dates (65%), raisins (60%), grapes (15%) and apples (10%).
Annual sugar consumption has increased (in developed countries) from 1.8 to 54.5 kg per head over the past 200 years, now providing up to one sixth of daily caloric intake. Two thirds of this consumption is via a wide range of factory prepared foods. Children in the UK gain 29 percent of their energy from sugary foods. As an indication of the prevalence of "sweet-tooths", the market for artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes in the UK in 1986 was £24.5 million.
Sugar is easily digested and acts as a great source of energy. Furthermore its purity denies any possibility of contaminants, a subject of worry with the use of many other ingredients. Sugar has been used in cooking and confectionery for ages, as it has been in the lollipops of healthy children. Artificial sweeteners, which may have their own and even more serious health hazards, are unreliable and insufficient replacements for sugar.