Does the Sugar Tax go far enough?
The Guardian recently published a very interesting article on the Sugar Tax that came into force this month. The statistics of children suffering from the consequences of incredibly high-sugar diets continue to make for depressing reading. Some of the facts the article states, according to Public Health England, are that:
- Every single day, 141 children have teeth extracted in a hospital environment...
- Which is the equivalent to a child having a tooth pulled out every 10 minutes.
- Decayed teeth is, in fact, the most common cause for a child aged 5 to 9 to be hospitalised.
- The time these children spend in hospital adds up to over 60,000 missed days of school time, each year.
- At a cost of £3.4bn for the NHS per year!
So what is the Sugar Tax?
The number-one cause of all of this decay is sugar-sweetened soft drinks. This is not just limited to the fizzy culprits that are so often discussed in the media, but other long-term offenders such as Ribena, or Fruit Shoots, or fruit juices like Tropicana. Any drink with over 5g of sugar per 100ml are now subject to the new tax and have to pay a penalty of 18p per litre (those with higher levels, of over 8g are expected to pay 24p per litre).
The possible downfalls...
This new legislation is undeniably a favourable move in the fight against childhood obesity and definitely a commendable step in the direction of improving children's dental health in this country. Many however, are complaining that this tax does not go far enough to penalize the manufacturers of such high-sugar products, nor will the slight increase in price do enough to put off consumers.
PHE suggests families should look at the advice on the Change4Life website on swapping to low fat milky drinks, water and low sugar drinks. Fruit juice and smoothies should be limited to 150ml a day.
They may appear healthy but contain large amounts of natural sugars. Experts, such as Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GP's, have also championed the importance of family doctors in the fight against sugar. She encourages GP's to not only explain more carefully the risks of high-sugar diets, but to offer patients simple, achievable alternatives, or at least point them in the direction of more information or help.
How your dentist can help...
Your dentist also plays a huge role in helping you and your family find alternatives to high-sugar foods and drinks. The more information you can give them about your lifestyle and dietary choices, the most tailored their advice can be and hopefully, the more manageable the changes for you.
Let's hope the future only holds good things for the fight against sugar and the improvement of our children's oral health!