Consumers inadvertently exposing themselves to increased risk of tooth decay

Richard Laycock 25 July 2017 NEWS

Woman shopping in supermarket reading product information.

The Australian Dental Association (ADA) calls for clarity of the Health Star Ratings.

The Australian Dental Association (ADA) has sounded a warning after a review of 34,000 packaged foods with Health Star Ratings (HSR) found that products with naturally occurring sugars were being classified the same way as those with processed sugars.

According to the ADA, the review, which was conducted by the George Institute for Global Health (George Institute), shows that consumers may be exposing themselves to an increased risk of tooth decay.

“This lack of transparency goes hand in hand with the fact that many foods are marketed as healthy when they are not,” said president of the ADA, Dr Hugo Sachs.

Dental health is a growing concern in Australia as those requiring dental procedures get younger and younger.

"Nationally, over 24,000 children aged 14 years or under were admitted to hospital due to dental conditions – these hospitalisations were assessed as being potentially preventable. Over half of 6-year-olds have experienced tooth decay in their baby teeth and up to half of 12-year-olds have experienced tooth decay in their permanent teeth," Dr Sachs said.

The ADA highlighted that many sugary treats, such as dried fruit, muesli bars, sweetened yoghurt, and fruit bars, are marketed as "healthy snacks". This could damage more than just our teeth.

According to research from Diabetes Australia, half-a-million Australians could be living with type 2 diabetes and not even know it.

In a bid to help Australian consumers make healthier choices, the George Institute also looked into the possibility of bringing Health Star Ratings to fast food chains, reviewing over 1,500 products in June 2017.

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Picture: Shutterstock

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