Faculty says schools should be “sugar free”

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Faculty of Dental Surgery adds its comments to Sugar Tax debate and calls for sugar free schools

The Government's Soft Drinks Industry Levy will come into effect today, Friday 6 April 2018. The Faculty of Dental Surgery has previously welcomed the levy and called for some of the money generated to be used for children's oral health programmes.

Commenting on the soft drinks levy and other measures to reduce children's sugar consumption, Professor Michael Escudier, Dean of the Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons, said: “Excessive sugar consumption has a massive impact on our children’s health. As well as causing tooth decay, which affects a quarter of five-year-olds across England, it’s also a major factor in other health problems such as childhood obesity and diabetes.

“Given this, it’s important that we think carefully about how we can reduce the sugar content of children’s diets and looking at the type of food that’s served in schools is one way of doing that. In the 2016 Child Obesity Plan the Government committed to reviewing the successful School Food Standards in light of new advice about sugar and nutrition. This also included campaigning to extend the Standards to academies and free schools that weren’t covered, so as a starting point it’s essential those recommendations are fully followed through.

“In an ideal world, we’d encourage all schools to go “sugar-free” and stop serving high sugar products like cakes and non-fruit-based desserts on their premises. However, we need to be pragmatic about this – in reality, there will always be times when children or teachers want to bring in treats to celebrate special occasions, such as a birthday or the end of term. When they do, it’s about managing this appropriately. The worst thing for teeth is snacking on sugary food throughout the day, so what’s important is ensuring that sugary treats are only consumed at certain points in the day like lunchtime breaks.

“There are also other ways that schools can help tackle child tooth decay – we’d like to see some of the money from the new soft drinks levy used to fund supervised tooth brushing sessions in nurseries, primary schools and breakfast clubs, which can have real benefits for children’s oral health. More broadly, we need to look at how we address some of the other factors driving high sugar consumption – in particular advertising.”

Photo by Leon Ephraïm on Unsplash