With teenage dental decay an increasing problem, the Australian Dental Association (ADA) has backed Cancer Council calls to tackle the problem with a range of measures including a tax on sugar and better labelling of products containing added sugar.
Around 22 per cent of boys and 11 per cent of girls consume a litre or more of sugary drinks a week according to data released yesterday from the Cancer Council Australia’s National Secondary Students’ Diet.
It backs up alarming findings from Australia’s Children and Young People Oral Health Tracker created by the ADA and Australian Health Policy Collaboration, which showed 73 per cent of teens aged 14 to 18 consume too much sugar according to World Health Organization guidelines. The health implications of this are considerable.
The ADA recently called for an overhaul of nutrition labelling for added sugars following pressure by food ministers for Food Standards Australia New Zealand to review the system.
“This may make teenagers think twice before drinking a bottle of soft drink if the label says it has 16 teaspoons of sugar in one 600ml bottle,” ADA president Dr Carmelo Bonanno said.
The problem is also that much of the sugar is hidden in foods like muesli bars, cereals and sauces. More transparent labelling would remove the guesswork for consumers.
“Better labelling would mean consumers can make more informed choices by being able to separate natural from added sugars like cane syrup, fructose and dextrose on nutrition panels,” Dr Bonanno said.
“But more needs to be done—the ADA also wants to see a levy on sugary drinks as well, to increase their price by 20 per cent.”
There is evidence these measures are effective. A New Zealand study published in June found a sugar tax of 10 per cent resulted in a 10 per cent drop in sugary drink consumption.
“These taxes are an effective tool to reduce sugar consumption and tooth decay,” Dr Bonanno said. “Through this tax the money could be used to pay for health promotion and oral care for disadvantaged Australians.”
This article sourced from an ADA media release.