MERRILL, WI (WSAU) -- This Saturday is Healthy Smiles for Lincoln County's Sugar Out Day Challenge.
February is National Dental Health Month and a local group in Lincoln County has found a unique way to challenge the community to help their smiles. The Sugar Out Day Challenge pledge asks individuals to reduce their sugar intake from food and drink for one day. The day itself is set for Saturday, February 9th, but it can be completed all month long.
Karen Krueger a public health nurse with the Lincoln County Health Department says the day is all about making the public aware of how much sugar they consume in their diets. "It wants to make the public and the students aware of what's in their food. Sugar is hidden everywhere. So we wanted people to be aware that sugar is in there. And to look at your drinks, your nutrition labels, and the food that you drink and eat and look at the sugar in it to see if you can find a better choice."
A big part of the Sugar Out Day Challenge is the education component. Krueger explains the presentation 4th-grade students receive during the month of February about oral health and sugar. "We do a one-hour presentation with a hygienist and a dentist for part of the presentation. And then the other half is a hands-on demonstration in three different areas for the children to learn about oral health and how to brush and floss. And [one about] drinks and beverages and food. And another one with reading nutrition labels."
Sugar in one's diet can cause several health problems. Krueger describes some of these issues that can arise from too much sugar in one's diet. "It will contribute to heart disease, to strokes, and to diabetes of course. And it can also change some respiratory conditions. So having that increased amount of sugar in your body does wear and tear on all the different organs on it. So if you're having an excess of that sugar it's going to do things to that body that we just may not be ready for."
Krueger emphasizes some of the ways people can monitor their intake of sugar for a better diet and oral health. "We want people to read their labels. Four grams of sugar is equal to one teaspoon of sugar. And an average soda has anywhere between ten and fifteen teaspoons of sugar. So we do a lot of education and want people to be aware of what's in their food. Because it's hidden in everything."
You can participate in the Sugar Out Day pledge throughout the month of February. All you have to do is fill out the pledge form which is online at the Lincoln County Health Department's website, and return the completed pledge by February 28th to be entered for a raffle drawing for a fresh fruit and vegetable gift card.