A report from Public Health England calling for new action to tackle high levels of sugar consumption has received the backing of the British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy (BSDHT).
The professional body warned that ignoring the recommendations would be “reckless” and would put thousands more children at risk of poor oral health.
Public Health England identified a number of factors that are contributing to growth in sugar consumption, including product marketing, promotions and the levels of sugar contained in manufactured food.
It also highlighted potential measures to address the problem, including action to limit the advertising of high-sugar products to children and reductions in sugar content in everyday food and drink products.
There is also the option of increasing the cost of sugary foods through a tax or levy, but Public Health England warned that this could be relatively ineffective.
Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at the government-sponsored body, said there is no “silver bullet solution” to the UK’s excessive sugar consumption and a “broad and balanced” approach is needed to address the issue.
Michaela O’Neill, president of the BSDHT, said “we need to act now” to tackle this problem and reduce the risk of children suffering from oral health problems.
She pointed out that tooth decay is the main cause of children’s tooth extractions, which cost the NHS about £30 million a year.
“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,” Ms O’Neill added.
“The BSDHT and our members have long campaigned for action on sugar and these recommendations need to be seriously reviewed and acted upon; the evidence is all there and ignoring them would simply be reckless.”
Under its First Smiles initiative, the BSDHT is seeking to improve children’s oral health through education in schools and via dental practices.