Soft drinks named in Liverpool tooth decay battle

Drinks Image copyright AP
Image caption Many soft drinks exceed the maximum daily allowance of sugar for children of five to seven cubes

Health officials in Liverpool are tackling "an alarming level" of child tooth decay in the city by publicising brands with high amounts of sugar.

A new campaign names leading brands such as Lucozade, Coca-Cola, Tropicana, Capri-Sun and Ribena - warning how many sugar cubes are in each drink.

It will target hospitals, GP surgeries, children's centres and hospitals.

About 2,000 children in the city will have had tooth extractions by the age of five, health chiefs say.

More than a third have suffered from tooth decay and a 14-year-old recently had 15 adult teeth removed, Public Health Liverpool said.

Do you know how much sugar you eat?

The "Is your child's sweet tooth harming their health?" campaign highlights that 500ml of Lucozade contains 15.5 cubes of sugar, while an equivalent bottle of Coca-Cola has 13.5 cubes.

The maximum daily allowance of sugar for children is five to seven cubes, depending upon their age.

Dentist shocked

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Public health officials say even drinks which are marketed as healthy, such as orange juice and flavoured water, contain large amounts of sugar

Director of Public Health Liverpool, Dr Sandra Davies, said they are "the first local authority in the country to name how much sugar is in specific brands" to help people "make healthier choices."

"Many of us are not in the habit of studying labels on drinks... people don't realise how much sugar is in them."

Hidden sugar and the frequency at which young people consume drinks are big problems, said Sondos Albadri, consultant in paediatric dentistry at the University of Liverpool.

"It is quite shocking for me as a dentist... I've just listed a two-and-a-half-year-old to have eight teeth removed under general anaesthetic."

Image copyright Liverpool City Council
Image caption Cut-out boards will be in placed in children's centres, doctors' surgeries, health centres and hospitals

"We are increasingly seeing children aged between 12 and 16... I had to remove 15 adult teeth on a 14-year-old recently, and while that is an extreme case it is by no means a rare occurrence."

Councillor Tim Beaumont, mayoral lead for wellbeing, said it was also "contributing to the obesity issue" in Liverpool, where "one in four children starting primary school are overweight, rising to 38% for secondary school age pupils."

Gavin Partington, from the British Soft Drinks Association, said soft drinks companies were "taking practical steps to help consumers" including "reducing the sugar in their products".

"If this were a genuine education campaign to reduce sugar intake then surely it would look at all sources of sugar consumption and not just target soft drinks, which is the only food category where sugar intake is actually falling year on year," he said.

The number of sugar cubes (each containing 4g of sugar) in popular drinks, according to Public Health Liverpool:

15.5 - Lucozade (500ml)

13.5 - Coca Cola (500ml)

12.7 - Frijj chocolate milkshake (471ml)

8.25 - Capri-Sun (330ml)

7.5 - Tropicana orange juice (330ml)

7.25 - Ribena (288ml)

5.75 - Volvic flavoured water (500ml)

Image copyright Thinkstock

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