Ditch sweets at checkouts, shops to be told

Water fluoridisation will be considered and supermarkets will be asked to remove sweets from checkout in an effort to improve the oral health among children in a London borough.

A report by Hammersmith and Fulham earlier this year found half the borough’s under-fives are suffering from tooth decay due to poor oral health, way above the London average of 33%.

Child dental admissions to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital cost the NHS more than £350,000 last year, prompting health chiefs to set up a task group, which this week presented its findings to Hammersmith and Fulham Council.

The authority has agreed to set aside a budget of £89,000 to spread awareness of a problem which is linked to deprivation, while it has also pledged to look into the prospect of water fluoridisation, which has been found to significantly reduce decay.

The issue will be debated at a full council meeting where it could be decided to hold a future public consultation over whether the borough should join areas such as Birmingham in adding fluoride to the water system, where decay has been reduced by up to 40%.

It also agreed to ask shops and leisure centres to ‘chuck sweets off the checkout’ as part of a separate campaign to improve children’s diets, while schools will be forced to conduct dental inspections, improve oral health signposting and focus further on healthy eating as part of a number of new directives.

Inner North West London NHS Primary Care Trust will introduce a number of initiatives, including a targeted fluoride varnishing campaign for three-five-year-olds, the distribution of toothbrushes and toothpaste to targeted groups and special support for children in care.

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