The Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) and other members of the Rethink Sugary Drink Alliance are urging Australians to reduce their consumption of sugary drinks.
“Reducing sugary drinks will not only protect their teeth but also their wider health”, said Michael Moore, CEO of the PHAA.
“This is yet another justification for the introduction of a health levy on sugar-sweetened beverages as a preventive public health measure”, he added.
Australia is in the top ten of countries with the highest level of soft drink consumption. Around a third of Australians regularly consume sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) such as soft drinks, flavoured waters and energy drinks. These drinks are widely recognised by dental experts as a major contributor to tooth decay and erosion.
Mr Moore said, “It’s well known that sugary drinks are linked to dental health problems which can lead to significant amounts of discomfort and disability in themselves. However poor oral health is also associated with major chronic health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and respiratory disease. Additionally, there are often compounding health effects between these types of comorbidities. Sugary drinks also strongly contribute to weight gain and obesity, so they negatively impact on health in multiple ways”.
Mr Moore continued, “At the individual-health level, it’s very important people avoid consuming these drinks on a regular basis, while at the population-health level it’s time we introduce a health levy on sugarsweetened beverages to reduce the harms they cause.”
“Research shows that a health levy on these drinks will effectively reduce their consumption, especially if implemented as part of a wider approach to address poor nutrition and diet-related disease. What is needed is a national nutrition policy, restrictions on the marketing of sugary drinks toward children, limiting their availability in schools and at events attended by children and young people and public education campaigns about the adverse health impacts of SSBs. These could easily be funded by the revenue generated by the levy”.
The theme of 2017 Dental Health Week is ‘Anywhere Anytime – Oral Health for Busy Lives’, which recognises that many Australians feel they don’t have time to properly care for their oral health due to their busy schedules. However, avoiding sugary foods and beverages which damage teeth is a simple preventive measure people can take and can be encouraged by governments.
“Along with maintaining proper oral health care, one of the easiest things people can do to protect their teeth and in turn their broader health, is to avoid sugar-laden drinks and to favour drinking tap water,” Mr Moore concluded.