Following a report highlighting the high levels of sugars in some breakfast cereals, the Oral Health Foundation has called for an urgent review to help address the impact that added sugars have on tooth decay.
The Action on Sugar report shows that some breakfast cereals in the UK have dangerously high levels of sugar, particularly some breakfast cereals marketed towards children. A typical 30g serving of some contain a third of a four- to six -year-old’s maximum daily recommended intake (five teaspoons of sugar) for sugar.
The Oral Health Foundation is supporting calls for food manufacturers to follow the success of their salt reduction programmes by setting sugar targets for different categories of food and drink with immediate effect. The charity says the move will help to reduce sugar consumption, preventing tooth decay, as well as obesity and type 2 diabetes.
CEO of the Oral Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, said: ‘This report is incredibly eye-opening; far too many people are starting their day with a huge dose of sugar, which is putting their health at major risk. Many will be unaware of the dangerous levels of sugar in some of these breakfast cereals and the manufacturers have a responsibility to alter their products to protect consumers from harm.
‘Tooth decay is an enormous problem in the UK; in the last year, more than forty thousand children had to have teeth removed under general anaesthetic. This is heart-breaking and comes with huge emotional and physical distress caused to the children and their parents or carers, as well as a £35.6m bill for the NHS to perform the procedures.
‘Reformulation is key to change here, there has been huge progress made with the salt reduction programme in the UK, we believe a significant reduction in sugar can be achieved in a similar way.
‘There needs to be a systematic, unobtrusive and gradual reformulation programme for manufacturers, which would involve setting progressive targets for each food and drink category, this would allow for an incremental reduction of sugar levels and greater protection for the public.’
Tooth decay happens when the enamel and dentine of a tooth become softened by acid attack after you have eaten or drunk anything containing sugars. Over time, the acid causes a cavity to form in the tooth. This often leads to the tooth needing to be filled or even extracted.
‘I urge everybody to try and be aware to how much sugar is in their breakfast, as well as other foods and drinks including fruit juices, and the impact that it has on their oral health,’ Dr Carter added.
‘There are many healthy alternatives to sugar filled breakfast cereals, which are kind to your oral health, you may wish to opt for eggs, toast, sugar-free cereals, porridge or fresh fruit as an alternative.’