Liverpool To Cut Child Tooth Decay

Public health officials in Liverpool are tackling an "alarming level'' of child tooth decay in the the city by highlighting the amounts of sugar in popular soft drinks.

A high-profile profile campaign called ``Is your child's sweet tooth harming their health?'' will outline how many sugar cubes are in drinks such as Lucozade, Coca-Cola, Tropicana, Capri-Sun and Ribena.

Public Helath Liverpool says around 2,000 children in the city will have had tooth extractions by the age of five and more than a third will have suffered from tooth decay, while a 14-year-old recently needed 15 adult teeth removing.

The campaign highlights that 500ml of Lucozade contains 15.5 cubes (64 grams) of sugar while an equivalent bottle of Coca-Cola has 13.5 cubes (54 grams) - against a maximum daily allowance of five to seven cubes for children depending upon their age.

Cut-out boards highlighting the amounts will be in placed in children's centres, doctors' surgeries, health centres and hospitals.

Director of Public Health, Dr Sandra Davies, said: "We are the first local authority in the country to name how much sugar is in specific brands because we feel it is really important that all parents have the facts they need when making decisions about which drinks to give their children.

"Many of us are not in the habit of studying labels on drinks and the evidence that we have is that people don't realise how much sugar is in them, so we are taking steps to support them to make healthier choices.

"Our advice to parents is to take their child to the dentist by the age of one and teach them to brush their teeth correctly from an early age.''

Councillor Tim Beaumont, Mayoral lead for wellbeing, said: ``Through no fault of their own, families simply don't realise how much sugar is in some of these drinks.

"As well as leading to poor dental health, it is contributing to the obesity issue in Liverpool which means that one in four children starting primary school are overweight, rising to 38% for secondary school age pupils.

"What we're trying to do through this campaign is get the message across that even drinks which are marketed as healthy such as orange juice and flavoured water have large amounts of sugar in them.

``This is about getting families and young children into healthy habits which will hopefully last a lifetime and prevent future unnecessary pain and trauma.''

Sondos Albadri, Reader and Consultant in Paediatric Dentistry at the University of Liverpool, said: "There is a myth that baby teeth are not important but the fact is that they are vital as they help guide adult teeth into position. Persistent infections can be detrimental to the child general health and early loss of baby teeth can also lead to problems with adult teeth later in life.

"The problem with tooth decay in Liverpool isn't only confined to younger children and we are increasingly seeing children aged between 12 and 16 at the Dental Hospital.

"I had to remove 15 adult teeth on a 14-year-old recently, and while that is an extreme case it is by no means a rare occurrence.

"All of this is largely preventable by reducing sugar intake and keeping teeth clean by brushing twice a day.''

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