In response to the government passing regulations on when junk food advertisements are allowed to play on television, The Oral Health Foundation welcomes these new restrictions and acknowledges that it is a step in the right direction, but worries that there is still a lot more work to do.

Dr Nigel Carter, Chief executive of the oral health foundation had this to say on the matter:

Nutrition is a key part of taking care of not just our general health but also our oral health. The amount of sugar we consume has a devastating impact on the nations oral health. Cutting down on sugar consumption is the number one way to stop tooth decay, and junk food is often filled with sugar in order to make the taste more appealing. 

Tooth decay remains the number one reason for hospital admissions among young children. The NHS carries out almost 900,000 tooth extractions on children under 18 every year and nine-in-ten of these are down to tooth decay.  Tooth extractions takes a great physical and emotional toll on children and is often a source of trauma.  All measures we can take to prevent a child having to go through this [tooth extraction] are things we welcome wholeheartedly.

Dr Ben Atkins, President of the Oral Health Foundation, also welcomes these new regulations, sharing some heart-wrenching personal accounts of having to perform tooth extractions on young children:

When you’re holding a parent’s hand because you’ve just had to take all of their child’s teeth out under general anaesthetic and the child’s looking you in the eye saying ‘why have you done this to me’ you will welcome any new rules brought in to help protect children and stop situations like this occurring.

Performing tooth extractions on a child is risky, especially under general anaesthetic which comes with a lot of risks its self. That child might not have woken up from anaesthetic. I could have put their life in danger over something which could have easily been managed with proper diet and proper oral healthcare.

Both Dr Carter and Dr Atkins both share the worry that although this is a positive step, these new regulations are not going far enough to protect children.

Dr Carter said:

In addition to the TV advert ban it is promising to see that the ban will extend to online marketing such as Facebook and Instagram adverts. However, there are various loopholes and the ban will not cover audio media, such as podcasts and radio, and there will be no new restrictions for the out-of-home sector, including billboards, poster sites, buses, and locations such as railway stations and airports.

This is a promising step in the right direction, but there is much work still to be done. It is also unclear reading the report if this ban extends to streaming services which now are used by many children to consume media.

Extending these restrictions to cover all media types especially streaming platforms is the next natural progression, if they are not included already.

Dr Atkins also added:

Ultimately the buying decision is still down to caregivers. They largely control what their children consume and whilst this advertising ban is welcomed we all need to change our attitudes to sugary foods to effect change.

For more information about oral health and tooth decay, please visit The Truth About Tooth Decay.