SOUTHAMPTON City Council used to be ever so concerned about children’s teeth.
Dental health was so important that a small majority of councillors supported the fluoridation of water supplies on this basis alone, putting aside concerns on the effects of fluoride elsewhere in the body.
Upon receipt of an offer by Coca-Cola to pay for the recycling bins the council should be buying themselves, concern for children’s teeth seems to have gone put of the window, as the company has been allowed to advertise their sugar and chemical-packed drinks all over town.
Coca-Cola consists of water, sugar and several artificial flavourings and sweeteners. A typical can of coke contains about 45g of refined sugar, which is already more than the maximum recommended daily allowance. The sugar-free varieties still have the sweeteners, which are subject to ongoing debates on their effects.
For the past few years, campaigners in the Green Party and Hampshire Against Fluoridation have been fighting the plans of the Strategic Health Authority to add hexafluorisilic acid to local water supplies. They have argued that there are better ways to improve dental health than to force fluoridated water on a captive population, such as providing better education and public information on dental health.
The council and the Primary Care Trust (PCT) responded that it was “too difficult to change people’s behaviour”. By allowing Coca-Cola to advertise all over the city, they have ensured that this is true. Maybe this is their idea of joined-up thinking: promote cola, which will cause tooth decay, thereby justifying the need for fluoridation.
I find it incredible that the PCT and local dentists are silent on this issue. They were not short of time, money or energy when it came to promoting fluoride -the PCT spent a vast amount of public money on a one sided door-to-door leaflet campaign, whilst dentists claimed to be heartbroken over how many teeth they’d drilled out. Their silence on the Coca-Cola advertising leads me to doubt their sincerity, their honesty and their integrity.
We will only improve children’s dental health when we reduce their intake of sugary snacks and drinks. To achieve this, we need to reduce both the advertising and availability of such products and replace them with healthy alternatives.