British children are getting most of the sugars they consume through soft drinks and fruit juices, according to national statistics.
Public Health England (PHE) has published a new report that shows children between four and 18 are getting 30% of their sugar intake from sugary drinks, which has led to warnings from the British Dental Health Foundation (BDHF) over dental health.
‘The statistics from the PHE are something we and the British public should be very worried about but do not come as a huge surprise,’ Dr Nigel Carter OBE, chief executive of the BDHF, said.
‘We have been calling on the Government to implement a tax on sugary drinks for some time as all the evidence points to them being one of the biggest issues facing the nation’s health currently, too many children are being hospitalised for tooth extractions due to the effect sugars are having on levels of tooth decay.
‘The NHS is being put under huge stress from sugar related dental health problems, which can be massively reduced if the correct measures are put in place.’
Other sugary treats children most often consume include chocolate, breakfast cereals, biscuits and ice cream.
However, it is the sugar found in soft drinks that the BDHF is most concerned about as soft drinks and fruit juices tend to contain high levels of acids as well as sugar leading to both dental decay and tooth erosion.
‘So far the Government has resisted calls (for a sugar tax) and under fire Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has ruled out the proposal of a sugar tax, but in the absence of a strong hand some big and welcome moves have been made elsewhere, which will really shake up Britain’s food industry,’ Dr Carter continued.
‘Tesco made a major statement recently by pulling high sugar drinks such as Ribena and Capri Sun from its shelves.
‘Publicity stunt or not, this is a bold move and the public and industry are getting the message as to how damaging these drinks can be to dental health.
‘This also shows that if the Government is not going to do anything, Tesco is willing to take it into its own hands.
‘Either way the British Dental Health Foundation is pleased that something is finally happening to combat our nations addiction to sugar and hopefully we will see tooth decay levels fall over the coming years.’
The BDHF has put together some advice to help reduce the amount of sugar in patient’s diets.
‘Ensuring that you brush your teeth last thing at night and at least one other time during the day with fluoride toothpaste is the first step in combating tooth decay and while the foundation would never deny you your favourite sweet treats, we do want to inform you on how to effectively avoid painful dental health problems,’ Dr Carter added.
‘We have taken this opportunity to advise you on some alternatives that you could replace your sugary snacks with every now and again and have a potentially profoundly positive effect on your dental health.’
- Soft drinks and fruit juices – water and milk are the best options as replacements, alternatively sugar free cordials offer a great alternative. You may also wish to consider drinking through a straw so the sugars bypass the teeth entirely
- Breakfast cereals – you could swap a sugar-coated breakfast cereal for a whole grain breakfast cereal such as porridge or shredded wheat cereal with no added sugar. Also, instead of that sprinkle of sugar swap it for fresh fruit, far tastier and counts towards one of your five a day
- Biscuits, cakes and sweets – whole fruits are a great alternative, with such a huge variety of fruits in our shops there is something that everyone will like. Fruits offer many other health benefits too including boosting your vitamin levels and giving your metabolism a boost
- Table sugar – moderation is key here, if you like your tea or coffee or anything else with that extra sweet edge and artificial sweeteners are not your thing, then a slow cut down on how much sugar you are using will see fantastic results.