The Faculty of General Dental Practice (UK) (FGDP(UK)) welcomes last night’s Channel 4 ‘Sugar Rush’ programme in which Jamie Oliver highlighted the shocking impact of excess sugar in our diets. Although the link between a high-sugar diet and obesity and diabetes is well known, the FGDP(UK) was pleased to see that the programme brought attention to the detrimental effect too much sugar can have on our oral health. In particular, the FGDP(UK) feels it was important to show the shocking impact sugar is having on children’s health, and on resources in the NHS.
’Sugar Rush’ comes soon after figures published last month,* that show the high numbers of extractions and restorations which are carried out on children to treat preventable disease, such as dental caries. Almost 26,000 children in 2013-14 needed to have teeth removed in hospital under general anaesthetic. This is a terrible indictment on the state of the nation’s oral health.
This, alongside the recent Government report**, confirmed what we already all knew; that high levels of sugar consumption are associated with a greater risk of tooth decay. Drinking high-sugar beverages can result in weight gain and the associated increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
FGDP(UK) Dean Dr Mick Horton, commenting on the programme, said;
“It is wonderful to see Jamie Oliver put his head above the parapet again for the sake of the nation’s health, but he cannot do it alone. It is important that parents understand they have a responsibility to also improve the Dental Health of their children through regular dental appointments, good oral hygiene, and following a low-sugar diet. Recognising that together we can reduce the incidence of tooth decay.”
“The FGDP(UK) calls on the Government to explore the scope for using sales taxation and advertising restrictions in countering the damage done by high levels of sugar consumption.
Furthermore we urge the government to:
- Work with Public Health England and other stakeholders to develop a robust and effective strategy to help support a reduction in sugar consumption
- Identify and support effective and innovative methods of encouraging pre-school and school-aged children to attend dental check-ups, particularly in areas where attendance figures are poor
- Provide guidance for parents of new born children, and indeed expectant parents, to help them to make the best dietary choices for their children
- Work with schools and the dental profession to include dental advice and prompts as part of existing child health check programmes
- Support health visitors in providing information about the link between dental caries and sugar consumption, so that good dental care habits can begin from birth.”
* HSIC NHS Dental Statistics for England 2014/15 http://www.hscic.gov.uk/catalogue/PUB18129
** Carbohydrates and Health, SACN, 2015 https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/445503/SACN_Carbohydrates_and_Health.pdf