Almost 80% in healthcare report higher tooth decay among children, says survey

Almost 80% in healthcare report higher tooth decay among children

Nearly four in five health practitioners report seeing higher rates of children’s tooth decay or damage.

This is according to new findings carried out among members of the School and Public Health Nurses Association and the British Dental Association (BDA).

The survey aimed to understand the impact of child hunger on children’s health over the past year. This comes as part of a national week of action coordinated by the National Education Union’s ‘No Child Left Behind’ campaign.

Speaking to 313 school nurses and dentists, the report found that two thirds said the health issues facing children had worsened in the past year.

Findings include:

  • Sixty five per cent of health practitioners reported children’s health had got worse as a result of hunger and poor nutrition. Almost one third of respondents (28%) said that children were experiencing an increase in the incidence or severity of health problems to a large extent
  • When asked how hunger and poor nutrition were impacting on children, more than half said they had seen children who were putting on weight slower than expected (53%), displayed changes in their behaviour (55%) and were experiencing more frequent mental health problems (51%)
  • Almost four fifths of respondents (78%) said they had encountered children’s teeth decaying or being damaged at a higher rate than usual
  • Ninety four per cent of respondents said that they supported the idea of government provision of free school meals to every child in primary school in England.

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Calls for Free School Meals

Eddie Crouch is chair of the BDA. He said: ‘Our kids are born into a toxic food environment and dentists see the results every single day.

‘Tooth decay is the number one reason for hospital admissions among young children and bad diets are fuelling it.

‘Free school meals is a simple step that would put prevention to work in every school in this country.’

Sharon White, CEO of the School and Public Health Nurses Association, added: ‘The detailed responses from school nurses demonstrate not only their high level of concern and compassion but also the significant impact this is having on the focus of their work with an increasing number of hungry children. This should not be happening in the fifth richest county in the world.

‘We trust that as part of this week of action, that our decision makers listen, do and act urgently to provide universal free school meals to primary school aged children.

‘Without this, the downward trajectory of our children’s health outcomes will continue long into adulthood. They need and deserve much better.’

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