Tooth Decay Rates Lead to Calls for Health Warnings on Sweet Packets
29th June 2017
tooth decayMillions of the UK’s children are being raised on a diet loaded with sugary, with kids being hooked on chocolate, sweets, biscuits and fizzy drinks from an early age. Worryingly, unhealthy dietary choice can continue way into adulthood, with overweight children piling on even more pounds and growing into obese adults. Obesity then means these people are at risk of suffering a multitude of health risks such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis, gout, and some cancers. Now, in an attempt to curb the alarming trend of children routinely gorging on high-sugar food and drink products, healthcare professionals are putting their case forward for serious health warnings to adorn the packets of sweet packets. Dentists and doctors around the country want the warnings – which would act similar to those on cigarette packets – to include images of decayed, rotten teeth, together with pictures of overweight children. To prevent tooth decay, children need to be brushing their teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, reduce their consumption of sugary and starchy food and drinks, and parents need to make sure they are taking their children to the dentist regularly. The proposed idea of warnings may result in the pictures of rotten teeth and fat children accompanied by such text as ‘Sugar can contribute to obesity and the need for fillings’. Cigarette packets have incorporated mandatory warnings for the last nine years, becoming compulsory in 2008, and in under a decade it has been estimated that adult smokers have dropped from 21% to just 16%. It is hoped that these alarming warnings will put kids off the sugary food and drinks and result in similarly significant drops in childhood obesity and tooth decay. Some may be surprised to learn that it is in fact tooth decay behind most hospital admissions for children, with asthma being another health condition that can often lead to hospitalisation. Shockingly, around a third of those aged two to 15 can now be classified as being either overweight or obese. Moreover, in the last 2 years there are 34,000 kids aged 9 or below that have needed teeth removing from decay. Dr Latifa Patel, who put forth the new warnings on behalf of the British Medical Association’s North West Regional Council at the annual conference in Bournemouth this week. Dr Patel commented: “We want healthier children and we need a long-term policy. “We are hoping for the same sort of affect that warnings on cigarette packets have had on smoking. “Even confectioners, I presume, have a responsibility – just like the smoking industry – to make sure their products are consumed in a responsible manner. “So, I think confectioners will like having warnings on their sweets about sugar content and advice to brush your teeth after.”