Leading Irish dentist blames misleading food labels for childhood decay boom
One of Ireland’s leading dentists has blamed misleading food labels for the increased prevalence of childhood decay.
President of the HSE dental surgeons group, Michael Dalton, believes that labels and branding are very misleading, and it’s difficult for parents to know what is good for their children’s’ teeth, and what to avoid. Smoothies and juices are marketed as healthy alternatives to fizzy drinks, but if you look at the labels, they often contain a similar quantity of sugar. Cereal bars, dried fruit and yoghurts are sold as healthy snacks, but some variations are packed with sugar.
Dr Dalton also claims that terms like natural are duping parents into buying products that are actually harmful for their child’s teeth. Just because a drink contains natural sugars doesn’t mean that it’s a healthy choice. Fruit juices, for example, are incredibly acidic, which is harmful for the tooth enamel. The enamel becomes worn, and the risk of decay increases.
New research conducted in Ireland suggests that 60 percent of children who needed hospital treatment for dental issues ended up having teeth extracted under general anaesthetic. Some children were having up to 9 teeth removed by the time they reached the age of 12 years old.
Research shows that some of the most popular foods aimed at young children have an alarmingly high sugar content. Rice Krispies Multi-Grain Shapes, for example, contain more than 6g of sugar per 30g serving, yet the product may be enticing to parents because it is marketed as a fortified cereal, which is rich in vitamin D. A Barny Chocolate Sponge Bar is emblazoned with the message that it contains no artificial colours, but each 30g bar contains 8g of sugar. Children aged between 4 and 10 should have no more than 19-24 grams of sugar per day according to health experts.