22 September 2015

The UK's leading dental health charity feels the decision by the government to reject1 overwhelming calls for a sugar tax is a major opportunity lost in the urgent need to promote healthy living and improve the quality of life for millions.

The British Dental Health Foundation believes the decision could mean further suffering for potentially thousands of the country's children, as sugar related tooth decay remains the number one reason for hospitalisation of children in the UK2.

The petition, which was organised by Chef Jamie Oliver on the back of his Sugar Rush documentary, was signed by more than 140,000 people but was dismissed by the government following debate. In their response the government stated they had ‘no plans to introduce a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages'.

Dr Nigel Carter OBE, Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, explained why he believes the government's decision is misjudged.

Dr Carter said: "The British Dental Health Foundation has strongly supported Mr Oliver's renewed calls for the introduction of a ‘sugar tax', with experts believing a tax of just 7p per regular-sized can of soft drink with added sugar could generate £1 billion per year to treat health problems caused by sugar.

"The UK government has since disappointingly rejected these proposals, a move which is deeply irresponsible and let's down millions of people across the country.

"We absolutely believe the government have failed to listen to the public majority in the calls for a ‘sugar tax'. More than 140,000 people signed the online petition, demonstrating the huge strength of feeling this subject stirs in the public.

"The government's response was centred on obesity but worryingly completely omitted other crucial health issues such as diabetes and dental health.

"Children's tooth extractions cost the NHS around £30 million per year with the key cause being tooth decay. Within his proposals, Mr Oliver highlighted the fact that 26,000 primary school aged children were admitted to hospital due to tooth decay last year and by rejecting these proposals, I believe, more children will be forced to suffer painful and traumatising dental treatment in hospitals.

"We are urging the government to reconsider their decision with increased awareness of the effects of sugar on dental health.

"Implementing a ‘sugar tax' would allow payment of the costs of sugar related dental treatments and also make people think twice before buying sugary drinks.

"What is happening right now in dental surgeries and hospitals across the country cannot be allowed to continue. The introduction of a ‘sugar tax' would go a long way to changing the way we all view sugar.

"The British Dental Health Foundation will continue to campaign for a ‘sugar tax' and promote the benefits of a healthy diet on all of our dental health."

  1. Petition: Introduce a tax on sugary drinks in the UK to improve our children's health
  2. Children's Health Survey