Urgent changes at the highest level are needed to address the UK’s deteriorating oral health from sugar consumption.
These calls came from the British Dental Health Foundation (BDHF), which has backed a campaign from TV chef Jamie Oliver against the use of excess sugar in foods.
‘The effects that sugar consumption is having on children’s dental health cannot be understated,’ Dr Nigel Carter OBE, chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, said.
‘Shockingly, a recent study found half of eight year olds have visible signs of decay on their teeth and a third of children are starting school with visible signs of tooth decay.
“These figures are alarming but are unfortunately only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the effect sugar is having on dental health.
‘Tooth decay is the number one reason for hospitalisation in children and while we cannot blame the food and drink industry entirely, they do have to take a sizeable portion of the blame.
We believe that if decisive action is not taken soon, then all of our dental health, not just children’s, will continue to suffer the consequences.
‘Mr Oliver has highlighted the fact that 26,000 primary school aged children were admitted to hospital due to tooth decay last year, with children tooth extractions costing the NHS around £30 million per year, the key cause being tooth decay.’
Jamie’s Sugar Rush
Jamie Oliver’s new documentary, Sugar Rush, looks at the effects sugar consumption is having on oral health.
The celebrity chef has drawn up ‘Jamie’s Sugar Manifesto’ and the measures the British Dental Health Foundation endorses, include:
- A 20p levy per litre on every soft drink containing added sugar
- Legislation of the responsibility deal allowing the Government to set guidelines that must legally be followed by the food and drinks industry
- Penalties to be implemented to any food and drink companies that do not reach the targets
- An extension of the regulations banning junk food marketing on TV to 9pm
- Creation of more robust digital marketing regulations on junk food to cover all non-broadcast media
- Making traffic light labelling compulsory on all packaging
- Showing sugar content in teaspoons on the front of packaging.
‘We now have the public’s attention in the battle against sugar more than ever before and need to use this platform to force through important changes,’ added Dr Carter.
‘We cannot trust the food and drink industry to make the necessary changes themselves – more radical action is required.
‘We are supporting all of the measures that Mr Oliver has set out in “Jamie’s Sugar Manifesto” and believe lobbying the Government for the introduction of these can make a serious difference to our dental health.’