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Ask the Dentist: Childhood Obesity Strategy 'a huge leap backwards'

Dentist Lucy Stock of Gentle Dental Care in Belfast writes about how the Childhood Obesity Strategy is a disaster for oral health

Oral Health Foundation CEO Nigel Carter said the Childhood Obesity Strategy spells bad news for generations of children
Lucy Stock

FOLLOWING the unveiling of the Childhood Obesity Strategy last week leading oral health charity the Oral Health Foundation has described it as an absolute disaster which will lead to another lost generation of children experiencing entirely unnecessary oral health problems.

The charity is supported in its disappointment by leading oral health organisation, the British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy (BSDHT), which labelled the strategy a substantial backwards step in addressing the UK's children's oral health crisis.

The final Childhood Obesity Strategy has ironically been described as being "significantly watered down" after omitting what has previously been regarded as necessary regulations to make a tangible difference to children's health.

The most glaring omissions include a blanket ban on junk food advertising during family TV shows and a ban on firms using cartoon characters in advertising. The strategy has also excluded an expected clampdown on multi-buy promotions for unhealthy food in supermarkets.

Speaking on the release of the strategy, Oral Health Foundation CEO Nigel Carter spoke of the unnecessary harm it will cause to thousands of children in Britain and Northern Ireland as well as for generations to come.

"Today's Childhood Obesity Strategy is a disaster. What we have see in it spells bad news for generations of our children," Dr Carter said.

"Tooth extraction is the single biggest reason for children being admitted to hospital for general anaesthetics in the UK. More than 33,000 young people have to get rotten teeth removed every year in hospital, yet this is entirely preventable.”

"We are incredibly disappointed but sadly not surprised by this move. The government continue to ignore the children's oral health crisis we are experiencing in the UK and are putting the wellbeing of millions of people a risk by bowing to pressure from the food and drink industry.

"We will continue to lobby the government for more decisive action and apply pressure on the food and drink industry until a telling change is made.”

Michaela ONeill, president of the BSDHT, added: "This was an opportunity for the government to make a real difference and we are incredibly disappointed to have to take a huge leap backwards in the fight against preventable oral health problems.

"We are encouraging parents and children to avoid a future of poor oral health by taking it into your own hands. The best way to do this is by ensuring you brush their teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste; cut down on how often you have sugary foods and visit your dentist regularly.”

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