Dental officials call for labels on soft drinks

Australian dental experts are calling for all soft drinks to bear warning labels stating the risk of tooth decay caused by sugary sodas.

The call to action comes after the University of Adelaide released a study that revealed some Australian children consume upwards of three soft drinks a day. The study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, also found that cavities and tooth decay are “significantly associated with greater sugar-sweetened beverage consumption.”

It found that 13 percent of Australian children ages 5-16 consume three or more sugared drinks a day and 56 percent drink at least on soft drink a day. The number of tooth decay cases, missing and filled baby teeth was 46 percent higher within children who have upwards of 3 sugared drinks a day compared with children who do not consume any soft drinks.

The study points out that the acidity of soft drinks and sports drinks has been well documented through various studies. This paired with the sugar itself can be a factor in dental erosion, says Dr. Jason Armfield of the Australian Research Centre for Population Oral Health. It is Armfield who is proposing that health officials include a label on all soft drinks.

“If health authorities decide that warnings are needed for sweet drinks, the risk to dental health should be included,” Armfield said. This sentiment was echoed by the Australian Dental Association and the Australian Dental and Oral Health Therapists’ Association. Dr. Gordon Burt of the ADA believes that knowledge of the harmful components in soda pop and sports drinks has not been effectively disseminated throughout the public.

Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council will review their dietary guidelines in February and they are expected to include recommendations to ”limit intake of foods and drinks containing added sugars … In particular, limit sugar-sweetened drinks.”