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Open letter calls for further sugar reduction programmes

Oral Health Foundation is supporting and signing an open letter to the Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP and Maggie Throup MP, calling for further proactive measures to reduce the UK sugar intake.

The letter marks the 4th anniversary of the sugar tax and has been penned by Sustain, a group of organisations that are working together to drive the UK towards positive food policies.

The letter asks government for a clear plan to move beyond voluntary sugar reduction programmes and to mandate further healthy food and drink reformulation.

The member organisations of Sustain (which Oral Health Foundation belongs to) are trying to secure the Soft Drinks Industry Levy income to support measures that can increase children’s access to healthy and affordable food.

The letter says: “Since it was first announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it has been successful in removing over 44 million kilograms of sugar from soft drinks, resulting in an average decline in household sugar consumption equivalent to 30g per week.”

“The Soft Drinks Industry Levy has delivered a total of £878 million in industry levy revenues from 2018/19 to 2020/21, enabling investment in healthy school capital projects, the National School Breakfast Programme, and the doubling of the primary school Sports & PE Premium funding.”

The soft drinks levy, also knowns as the sugar tax, has had a positive impact on the current dental health crisis, which has largely been caused by sugar.

Dr Nigel Carter OBE, Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation says: “The sugar tax has been a significant success, not only for oral health but for general health and wellbeing too.  The more sugar we can continue to cut from drinks, the healthier our population will be.  It will allow more of us to be free of the diseases and conditions linked to sugar, and it will also save the NHS millions every year.”

Tooth decay, which is caused by sugar, is the most common reason why children have a general anaesthetic in hospitals in the UK.

There are various food options and snacks that include high amounts of sugar. Items like chocolate cookies, muffins, and breakfast cereals, which parents usually include in their children’s daily rations, are containing enormous amounts of sugar which, in the long run, could potentially become troublesome for child’s oral health.

The letter says: “Commercial sales data and public polling shows increasing consumption of snacks and sugary products during the Coronavirus pandemic. The most recent National Child Measurement Programme data indicates a worrying increase in obesity prevalence amongst primary school children, especially amongst those living in the most deprived areas.”

As a charity whose main objective is to improve oral health, Oral Health Foundation sees the increased importance in mandating healthy food and drink reformulation.

Due to unforeseen circumstances caused by Covid-19, restructuring of Public Health England, and the establishment of the new Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) that were taking place when the Sugar Reduction Report was originally scheduled, it caused a significant delay in publication.

The letter adds: “The Government promised that the report would be published in “early 2022”, and this was confirmed by the Minister of State on 10 January 2022 in response to a parliamentary question. We believe that all the data and analysis has now been conducted and that the report has been made ready for publication.”

Sustain end the letter with a call for further action regarding the issues addressed.

The list of organisations that signed the letter

Obesity Health Alliance

Food Foundation

Sustain

British Heart Foundation

Children’s Food Campaign

British Liver Trust

Impact on Urban Health

Royal Society for Public Health

Oral Health Foundation

Bite Back 2030

Action on Salt and Sugar

Diabetes UK

British Dental Association

Blood Pressure UK

Centre for Food Policy, City, University of London

Soil Association

Food Active

First Steps Nutrition Trust

Fellow FPH

Food Matters

Health Action Campaign

Food And Behaviour (FAB) Research

HENRY

School Food Matters

Food is Fun CIC

Food Plymouth 

Public Health, Somerset County Council

British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy

Food And Behaviour (FAB) Research

Oral Health Promotion Newcastle upon Tyne Community Dental Service and Chair of the National Oral Health Promotion Group (NOHPG)

ShareAction

Hyperactive Children’s Support Group

London Metropolitan University

National Obesity Forum

British Association for the Study of Community Dentistry (BASCD)

Chair of the BMA Board of Science 

World Cancer Research Fund

Oxford University

Institute of Health Visiting 

British Liver Trust

Children’s Liver Disease Foundation 

See the original article here: Oral Health Foundation