Experts are calling for the government to fight misleading marketing claims following a new report from Action on Sugar.
The new data found that more than three quarters of products claim to have ‘no added sugars’ or ‘only naturally occurring sugars’ – despite many containing sugars from fruit juices, concentrates and purees.
All of these are harmful to dental health.
Latest findings also show breakfast foods aimed at toddlers contain up to four teaspoons of sugar per serving.
To mark Sugar Awareness Week (14 – 20 November), Action on Sugar is calling on the complete removal of misleading nutrition and health claims on baby and toddler food and drink products. It urges the new health minister Steve Barclay to publish and mandate the ‘commercial baby food and drink guidelines’.
Dr Linda Greenwall is founder of the Dental Wellness Trust. She says: ‘Added sugar has found its way into almost all food and the use of sugar as a means to calm, entertain or reward children has become normalised rather than consumed as an occasional treat.
‘This excess leads to toothache and suffering – not just in children but in adults too which is why tooth decay remains one of the most widespread health problems – all of which is entirely preventable.
‘For this to change, manufacturers need to dramatically reduce the unnecessary sugar added to their products and the government must help fund oral health prevention and tooth brushing programmes in schools and nurseries as an effective way of preventing this public health crisis from getting worse.’
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Earlier this year a British Dental Association study of baby pouches aimed at children aged under 12 months found over a quarter contained more sugar by volume than Coca Cola.
Parents of infants as young as four months marketed pouches that contain the equivalent of up to 150% of the sugar levels of the soft drink.
The BDA backs widespread action on food marketing and labelling. This includes the complete removal of misleading nutrition and health claims on baby and toddler food and drink products.
British Dental Association chair Eddie Crouch said: ‘The food industry is walking parents down the garden path, pushing sugar-laden products as “healthy options”.
‘Claims of “no added sugar” are utterly meaningless when toddlers are receiving four teaspoons over breakfast.
‘Tooth decay is the number one reason for hospital admission among young children, and ministers can’t remain bystanders. Action here is a prerequisite if we’re ever going to turn the tables on wholly preventable diseases.’
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