With levels of childhood tooth decay soaring, the NHS have reacted by setting hospital shops a tough target. In 12 months’ time, the sales of sugary soft drinks will have to be reduced to just 10 per cent of their total drink sales annually or they will be banned completely. The decision will affect WHSmith, Marks & Spencer, Greggs, Subway and the Royal Voluntary Service, who are all supportive of the new health initiative and have apparently bought into the scheme.
Obesity, type 2 diabetes and oral health – a triple whammy
The NHS decision follows the move to reduce sugar intake generally in processed food and drinks in the UK. Next April will finally see the introduction of a sugar tax, designed to drag manufacturers (kicking and screaming in some cases) into making healthier products. The result should be much less tooth decay and a reduction in Type 2 diabetes. It should also go some way to tackling the growing obesity problem in all age groups.
The British Soft Drinks Association Director General, Gavin Partington, makes the point that since 2012 the UK industry hasn’t been sat on its heels. There’s already been a reduction in sugar intake from drinks although he doesn’t make it clear if that’s attributable to positive action by his members or it’s just reflective of changing consumer taste and trends.
He also raises a complaint that it’s not just soft drinks in the NHS shops that contain large amounts of sugar and it’s unfair to single out one type of product. From the NHS’s perspective, it’s an important stake in the ground and Gavin should take some reassurance that it’s apparently also about to set targets for confectionery and pre-packed meals.
The NHS should set an example
For many, the NHS target has been a long time coming. After all, the biggest single reason for admitting children to hospital in the UK is tooth decay. As one Middlesex Hospital patient was quoted on national news recently, “They should be selling healthy stuff in the first place. It’s because of the sugar that people end up in hospitals, so they should set an example.”
If you’re worried about any signs of tooth decay, call 020 7631 3276 to speak to one of the dental team at 76 Harley Street.