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Educators Get ‘Sugar-Free’ Message

posted Sep 19, 2015, 6:35 PM by Chris Fortune
Nelson Marlborough District Health Board Principal Dental Officer, Dr Rob Beaglehole is taking the‘sugar free’ message to principals, heads of departments, health co-ordinators and other educators during the region’s Oral Health week.

Dr Beaglehole says the recent media publicity around Sugar-Sweetened Beverages, or SSBs, has raised community awareness of the effects of too much sugar in our diets.

“School boards and teachers play an important role in raising awareness so we need to keep building on the available resources to empower parents and adolescents to make healthy choices.

“The Nelson Marlborough District Health Board has been at the forefront of this discussion with the removal of sugar-added beverages on the shelves of our cafes and shop.

“I believe that most adults are aware that sugar has become the new ingredient of concern, but many lack the skills in translating the messages in relation to their family’s diet,” he says.

Dr Beaglehole will share key messages with educators, invited by NMDHB Public Health, on engaging students in the sugar reduction campaign at ‘THAT SUGAR FILM...and YOUR school’ presentations in Blenheim and Nelson. This will cover school initiatives and an examination of the role of SSB Guidelines in school events and fundraising activities.

Each educator will receive a free NMDHB-sponsored copy of ‘That Sugar Book & DVD’ by the Australian documentary maker, Damon Gameau and other information.

“Each year in New Zealand, over 35,000 children aged under-12 have rotten teeth extracted due to excessively sugary diets and other junk foods,” he says.

“Dental caries or ‘tooth rot’ is one of the most common reasons for children’s admission to hospital.

“Decay and abscesses caused by sweetened beverages can hasten the process of children losing their baby teeth,” he says.

“And if children are struggling through school with the pain and distraction of rotting teeth, it can cause behavioural and development problems which has dire consequences for their schooling – and their prospects as adults. I urge schools and educators to take the messages into their communities and look at what they can do to reduce the sugar intake in our children.”

Kiwis, on average, consume about 54 kilograms of sugar a year, equivalent to 37 teaspoons of sugar a person every day. The World Health Organisation recommendation for a maximum sugar intake is three teaspoons per day for children and six teaspoons per day for adults.