The government has launched new guidelines for the food industry in a bid to slash the amount of sugar children are consuming on a daily basis.
The guidance recommends limiting sugar in foods such as biscuits, breakfast cereals and yogurt.
It is also encouraging us to choose lower of no added sugar products, wants to see the reformulation of foods to lower sugar content and is calling on companies to reduce the portion size in single-serve products so that they are not as calorific.
Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive of Public Health England, says: ‘We can’t duck the fact a third of children are leaving primary school overweight or obese and obesity generally is having a profound effect, not just on the costs for the health service, but on the overall health of the nation.’
But it’s not just obesity that is a worrying trend.
Earlier this month, the Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons, reported a rise of 24% in a decade of children having their baby teeth removed – and dentists blame tooth decay linked to sugary diets.
However, a whopping 90% of tooth decay is preventable – with reducing sugar consumption as well as brushing with fluoride toothpaste for two minutes twice a day and regular dental trips.
According to a survey by the Oral Health Foundation, almost half of parents would prefer to give their children to go sugar free as a healthier alternative to sugar-laden sweets and food but pester power rules when we’re standing at the checkout, right? Children DO have a knack of asking when our will is at its weakest…
She says: ‘She says: ‘It’s a sorry state of affairs that there are still a large number of children who continue to be affected by poor dental health. This can affect their lives terribly – many, many children live with undiagnosed chronic pain, are at risk of infection and require dental intervention. Imagine your child not wanting to smile or laugh because they are ashamed of their teeth or even struggling to eat
‘As well as addressing the problem of the amount of sweet stuff we have in our diets, these new stories serve as a timely reminder to parents everywhere to get children into good dental health habits, too.
‘So, as schools break up for the Easter holidays, why not set aside some time to book a dental appointment for them (and you) and dedicate your efforts to improving your whole family’s dental health care. Here are my top tips of how best to nurture your children’s teeth…
Firstly, get into good dental hygiene habits yourself – especially if pregnant! Gum health can suffer in pregnancy with all those hormone changes in the body, gums are more likely to become inflamed as they are more sensitive to the bacteria in plaque. Make sure you visit the dental team regularly throughout those nine months
Bring along your baby to see a dental hygienist or dental therapist as soon as possible. We are happy to show you how to care for your baby’s mouth and talk through the development of their teeth
And be sure to register your child with the dental practice on that first visit, too – ideally before their first birthday. Then, visit the dental team at least once a year. It may help to bring them to the practice when you have a check up, too, so that they grow familiar with the sights and sounds of the surroundings
Supervise teeth cleaning – remember that you are in this for the long haul. You will need to keep a watchful eye on them at least until the age of seven or eight when they will, hopefully, understand what is needed to keep their mouth healthy. Although, I have to say, the longer you can keep an eye on their brushing the better.
There are so many toothbrush and toothpaste options that it can be confusing. I often talk through preferences with parents of my younger patients.
Make sure you know what they are eating. Many foods have hidden sugars and, what we may think is healthy, may not be. Read food labels or talk it through with your dental professional about food and drink to avoid
Stick to tooth brushing twice daily with a small amount of fluoride toothpaste, especially just before bed, avoid snacking on sweet stuff and schedule regular dental checks.
A ‘sugar smart app’ has been developed by Public Health England and is available to download free of charge. By scanning the barcode of packaged foods it shows the total sugar in both cubes and grams.
Ask our Expert Melonie Prebble a question