Dental Association says low-cost prevention measures work

Press Release – New Zealand Dental Association

20 June 2018

Media release

Dental Association says low-cost prevention measures the answer

The recent Healthy Auckland Together monitoring report shows poorer oral health outcomes for children in the poorest neighbourhoods, being 12 times more likely to have worse oral health compared to children from affluent areas.

The New Zealand Dental Association (NZDA) says while recent debate focuses on expensive measures, such as increasing government funding of dental care, there are many low-cost preventative measures that would improve oral health.

“Many of the measures we’re calling for don’t carry a great cost, they simply require political will. We are talking about measures like mandating for schools to be ‘water only’, and local councils to introduce ‘water only’ policies at council facilities and events,” said NZDA spokesperson Dr Rob Beaglehole.

The NZDA also says a simple, low-cost measure is for New Zealand to adopt World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines on sugar as official national guidelines.

“Right now, we don’t have an official guide on daily sugar allowances, so combine that with low-prices, high availability, and big marketing pushes, it’s no wonder it’s a formula for disaster,” said Dr Beaglehole.

“A guideline would let people know what’s acceptable, the damage I see on a regular basis – it’s the equivalent of having a road with no speed limit, yet still hoping for the best.”

A consortium of public health groups is backing a NZDA-led 7-point Consensus Statement on Sugary Drinks.

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Notes to editors:

The seven actions are;

1) Introducing an icon on drinks indicating, in teaspoons, the amount of sugar in each drink.

2) Independent monitoring and evaluation of food marketing, with an emphasis on marketing that influences children.

3) Urging the government to adopt WHO limit guidelines on sugar.

4) Encouraging public to switch to water by; introducing warning labels highlighting sugary drinks as risk factors for obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay, and a nationwide social marketing campaigns such as ‘Switch to Water’.

5) Working with schools and the Ministry of Education to introduce ‘water only’ policies.

6) Introducing local council ‘water only’ policies at council facilities and events.

7) Introduction of a ‘sugary drinks’ tax in line with WHO recommendations.

The Consensus Statement is endorsed by; Activity and Nutrition Aotearoa (ANA), Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, Cancer Society of New Zealand, Diabetes New Zealand, Hapai Te Hauora, NZ Dental & Oral Health Therapists Association, NZ Branch of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Paediatric Dentistry, NZ Society of Hospital and Community Dentistry, Te Ao Marama, The Heart Foundation, The Public Health Association, The Royal Australasian College of Dental Surgeons.

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