Children and Sugar – The Shocking Facts

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Do you know that a recent Public Health England report discovered that children are consuming so much sugar at breakfast that half their daily allowance has already been eaten before school. It warns that sugary cereals, juices and spreads are all damaging to health. The article on BBC news: www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-38467861 describes how rotting teeth, ballooning waistlines and long-term health problems like type 2 diabetes are caused by unhealthy diets. Officials at PHE are encouraging parents to use an app that reveals the sugar content of food and drink. Around a quarter of five-year-olds have tooth decay and nearly a fifth of children are already obese by the time they leave primary school.

The study found that the problems start at breakfast. It found children were eating more than 11g of sugar or nearly three sugar cubes, on average, at breakfast alone. A small bowl of sugary breakfast cereal contains around two cubes of sugar, spreading chocolate spread on toast racks up three sugar cubes and a glass of fruit juice has a whopping five cubes in it. Here at NDOC we downloaded the app ‘be food smart’ and scanned in some common breakfast foods from our own cupboards. Only Weetabix & marmite came out as low sugar!

sugar-2Tooth decay is now the number one reason for hospital admissions among young children. Recent data have revealed a 10 per cent increase in children requiring hospital based tooth extractions in the last four years. https://www.bda.org/sugar The BDA (British Dental Association) has been leading calls for radical action to lower the nation’s sugar intake, with measures ranging from lowering the recommended daily allowance, through to action on marketing, labelling and sales taxes. Nearly a quarter of the added sugar in our diet comes from soft drinks and children aged 11-18 get 40% of their added sugars from soft drinks

So what can we do? The first thing is to be food smart, most of us do not have much nutritional knowledge, so use the internet or an easy downloadable app like ‘be food smart’. Make small changes at first, limit intake of soft drinks and switch to lower sugar breakfast cereals or better still eat a high protein, low sugar breakfast. Enlist the help of your children and their schools – talk about food and the ingredients in it. Get into the habit of reading the nutritional labels on food and drink before you buy it, especially for ‘healthy’ items like juices and low fat foods. It is important to remember that just because a sugar is naturally occurring, does not mean that it will not damage your teeth and health if it is not consumed in moderation.

The BDA suggests that the most important message dentists can give parents is to remember that it is not just the amount of sugar children eat or drink that causes tooth decay, but how often they have sugary foods and drinks. This is just a small article meant to engage thought – if you need any advice, especially on caring for your braces and how sugar consumption affects your dental health, please call: 01271 343688

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