The British Dental Association (BDA) and the Faculty of General Dental Practice (FGDP(UK)) are supporting Fizz Free February. Launched by the Southwark Council in 2018, the campaign encourages the public to reduce their sugar intake by cutting carbonated drinks from their diet.
Fizzy beverages are the largest single source of sugar for children between the ages of 11 and 18 in England, providing an average of 29% of their daily sugar intake, according to the BDA. By committing to avoid these drinks all month long, the organization says, consumers can develop new habits to make it easier to avoid them for the rest of the year.
The BDA joined national partners including Sugar Smart, which launched the campaign in Westminster on January 29, with BDA chair Mick Armstrong speaking alongside ministers of Parliament Tom Watson and Helen Hayes as well as Ben Reynolds of Sustain.
The BDA was a leading advocate of England’s sugar levy and is pressing for greater action restricting advertising, marketing, and price promotions. It also backs universal and properly funded oral health prevention programs across the United Kingdom.
“Prevention matters to us because we see the damage fizzy drinks do every day. The sugar they are packed full of is a big contributor to the problem of obesity. But it is the single main cause of tooth decay,” said Armstrong.
“The idea behind Fizz Free February couldn’t be simpler: simply encourage families to take a few weeks out from reaching for a can of pop. This idea may have started small over in Southwark, but we’re proud to help this campaign go national,” Armstrong said.
And while advocates often encourage a switch from sugar-sweetened beverages to artificially sweetened drinks as the lesser of two evils, the FGDP(UK) notes, Fizz Free February is a good opportunity to discuss the effects of acids on teeth as well as sugar.
“I know we’re up against it. While public health budgets have been savagely cut, the Coca Cola Company still spends about £4 billion a year on marketing. But the sugar levy showed we can make real progress when practitioners, politicians, and parents work together,” Armstrong said.
Dentists can download a free poster that they can display in their practice to support the campaign.