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Consensus Statement on Sugary Drinks

Sugary drinks are no longer a looming public health crisis, but a very real one. By working together, and acting now, we can prevent not only oral health damage, but obesity - a leading risk factor for diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers.

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Switch to Water and stop the decay

Kiwi families are being urged to "Switch to Water" as the New Zealand Dental Association attempts to halt the march of tooth decay.

Former Silver Fern player Irene van Dyk is backing the campaign to replace sugary drinks with water as this year's National Oral Health Day ambassador. 

Irene says the month-long campaign is a great way for people to start a healthier lifestyle. 

"We know that sugary drinks lead to both tooth decay and contribute to obesity and other health problems. By switching to water for the month, we are reminding people that it's possible to just drink freely available tap water and, hopefully, reminding them how good they feel when they are healthily hydrated."

Irene and Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne launch the Switch to Water campaign today (Friday 6 November) at Te Rauparaha Arena in Porirua with the help of 60 local school children. 

Irene says that while it's difficult to avoid sugary drinks completely, and managing kids consumption can be a challenge for parents, she supports the view of the New Zealand Dental Association that sugary drinks are best as an occasional treat. 

"The everyday drink of choice that's best for both our bodies and our teeth is the drink that's cheapest and that's freely available - water. Certainly during my time as a sportsperson it was really important to stay well hydrated and water is, quite simply, the best way to do that."

The New Zealand Dental Association is committed to improving oral health by reducing the impact of sugar sweetened drinks on New Zealanders. 

The Chief Executive of the New Zealand Dental Association, Dr David Crum says dentists would rather prevent dental disease than try and repair the damage it causes.

"The problem with sugary drinks is more serious and extensive than just tooth decay. There are nine teaspoons of sugar in a can of fizzy drink and even more sugar in a glass of juice. These sugary drinks contribute to tooth decay, obesity and diabetes. With 35,000 NZ children requiring dental extractions due to dental decay annually, we need to really highlight and tackle this problem".

Hon. Peter Dunne says "there's a lot of truth to the parental adage that there's plenty of water in the tap.

"Keeping your wallet in your pocket and grabbing a glass of water makes great sense - not only is it the healthy option but over the course of the month the savings will mount up for individuals and families."  

Dentists, dental therapists, dental hygienists and staff from more than 700 dental practices are showing the way and Switching to Water during the campaign.

Switching sugary drinks to water can:

  •  Switch off tooth decay
  •  Switch on weight loss
  •  Switch on health benefits
  •  Switch on saving money

Participants in the Switch to Water campaign can access further information at www.healthysmiles.org.nz or through their local dental practices.

- ENDS - 
For more information, imagery, to attend the event or arrange an interview, please contact:
Frances Coles
Acumen Republic for the New Zealand Dental Association
04 494 5126 / 022 071 9115


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