BDA Applauds Plan to Fight Obesity and Tooth Decay Together

Dentistry Today

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The British Dental Association (BDA) applauds the independent report from departing UK Chief Medical Officer Sally Davies for offering an integrated response to the challenges of childhood obesity and tooth decay. Even though both conditions are driven by common risk factors, the BDA says, they rarely have received a coherent response from policymakers.

Dental leaders have backed calls for the sweeping measures in the report, including applying VAT to all unhealthy foods, making free drinking water readily available across public places, and ensuring that food and beverages in nurseries and childcare settings are healthy.

In 2017 and 2018, there were 38,385 tooth extractions under general anesthesia in children due to tooth decay in England. Public Health England data indicates that at least 60,000 days of school are missed during the year for hospital tooth extractions. And as children take time off from school, parents and other caregivers may have to take time off from work.

The report also recognizes that tooth decay and obesity both mirror social depravation. More than a third of children from deprived backgrounds in England had tooth decay (36.3%), compared to just 12.5% in the least deprived backgrounds.

“Politicians have a duty to build on this report and deliver a truly joined-up approach improving children’s health. Tooth decay and obesity are preventable and fueled by deprivation and sugar, but there’s been little effort to join the dots on policy,” said BDA chair Mick Armstrong. “Ministers have a duty to set out a coherent plan to tackle these grotesque inequalities.”

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