Sport sponsorship contributes to teeth decay -- Expert

  • 26/03/2016
Sport sponsorship contributes to teeth decay -- Expert

The Dental Association says All Blacks sponsorship by brands like Gatorade is contributing to New Zealand's 'appalling' child tooth decay statistics.

The Dental Association says half of all children have rotten teeth and 35,000 had one or more rotten teeth removed last year.

Dental Association Spokesperson Rob Beaglehole says the Government must introduce legislation limiting sports team sponsorship by brands whose products contain high levels of sugar.

"We think it's inappropriate for the All Blacks to be sponsored by Gatorade which is packed full of sugar," says Dr Beaglehole.

"They're role models for New Zealand youth, so it's inappropriate for them to be peddling drinks that are causing so much harm for kids."

SEE MORE: All Blacks link up with global sports drink giants Gatorade

The Dental Association is also pushing for a sugar tax on junk food and sugary drinks.

"A lot of our school soccer teams are funded by McDonalds, which is selling unhealthy food to our kids, we also know that Coca Cola sponsor a whole lot of sports teams."

Dr Beaglehole says it's not all up to the Government. He says industry must do its bit to look after its customer's health. The association wants consumption brands to voluntarily put labels on products with the amount of sugar each item contains.

"For example, if Coca Cola would come to the party, they would put a little sugar icon on a 1.5 litre bottle of Coca Cola that would say: 'this product has 40 teaspoons of sugar'," says Dr Beaglehole.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) issued a warning last year about the state of oral health. It recommended adults consume only six teaspoons of sugar a day and children, 3 teaspoons.

"If I'm giving my child a can of coke or a glass of juice, they're getting about three times the amount of sugar that they should be having in one day, in one hit," says Dr Beaglehole.

Northland, South Auckland and the East Coast are the region's where tooth decay and bad oral hygiene are the highest.

This coincides with poverty levels in these lower socioeconomic areas. Maori and Pasifika children are worst affected and a high sugar diet is thought to be the problem.

The Green Party is in favour of all three measures proposed by the Association.

Green Party health spokesperson Kevin Hague says the evidence from measures against tobacco consumption show there are ways to mitigate financial impact on low-income consumers.

"Increasing taxes do affect those least well off but the evidence shows they stand to gain the most," says Dr Hague.

"If you recycle the money from the [sugar] levy into programmes that improve those peoples health, then that is a win, win."