Earlier this week the World Health Organisation said the daily allowance for a person’s sugar intake should be halved to 6 teaspoons.
Guidance published by the international body advises a dramatic reduction in sugar consumption to help avoid mounting health problems including obesity and tooth decay.
The President of the IDA, Dr Sean Malone said the advice from the WHO was a wake-up call for Irish children and their parents. He pointed out that half of all Irish 12 year olds and three quarters of all 15 year olds have some decay in their permanent teeth. This makes it the most common chronic disease children experience in Ireland.
“According to figures from the Department of Health* 37% of Irish children consume sweets once a day or more while 21% report drinking soft drinks daily or more.
“There is overwhelming evidence that sugars in food and beverages are the main dietary cause of tooth decay and erosion in children and adults. In addition to dental decay, people who consume excess sugar suffer higher rates of heart disease and diabetes’ Dr Malone said.
The Irish Dental Association believes the Minister for Health should ensure public health warning labels are carried on all carbonated soft drinks and introduce legislation which would stipulate that the sugar content of all foods and drinks are highlighted.
“Irish children are amongst the highest per capita consumers of soft drinks in the western world so this issue needs to be addressed urgently. The health warning system has really worked well for tobacco and alcohol products and it is time for similar warnings to be placed on food and drink products so that consumers can make a fully informed choice.
“Studies show it is children from more deprived backgrounds who have a higher risk of decay and unfortunately these are the very people who have been hardest hit by the HSE’s cutbacks in the public dental service” Dr Malone said.