The British Dental Association (BDA) is urging ministers to turn the page on voluntary action with the food industry, as a new report from Public Health England indicates minimal progress in reducing sugar levels in food, with many categories showing little or no reduction.
Data from the government’s flagship sugar reduction program shows that the food industry has cut barely 3% of sugar from products bought in shops and supermarkets over the past four years, the BDA said.
Dentists have pointed to the success of mandatory action through the sugar levy, which has seen a 44% fall in the sugar levels of soft drinks since 2015, with many companies taking out sugar to avoid exposure to the tax.
Tooth decay remains the number one reason for hospital admissions among young children, said the BDA, which expects oral health inequalities to widen further, driven by unprecedented access problems, the suspension of public health programs, and sugar-laden lockdown diets.
“Britain is losing the war on sugar because ministers remain unwilling to really put up a fight. Voluntary action from industry on reformulation is making next to no headway. We need a real sense of urgency, wedded to mandatory targets,” said BDA chair Eddie Crouch.
“COVID needs to focus minds on the need for sustained action on preventable diseases like tooth decay and obesity. Hard-won gains will only slip into reverse as lockdown diets take their toll,” Crouch said.