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19Jan

The blog entry was originally posted on the British Dental Health Foundation Blog Section

It attracts more than three and a half million tourists every year, can carry a maximum of 800 people at a time and it lies within the most popular city for tourists worldwide.

Can you guess what it is?

London EyeIt is, of course, the London Eye. First named the Millennium Wheel, one of London’s greatest landmarks will now be known as the Coca Cola London Eye, after a new sponsorship agreement between the two was announced. And this got me thinking.

There is often a lot said in the media about the effect tobacco and alcohol advertising has on the youth of today. Sport is a prime example. Numerous cups, events and games have had tobacco and alcohol companies as their main sponsor, and health authorities and the public alike were up in arms about the effect this may have on children. After all, if their favourite sport was sponsored by a leading cigarette firm, wouldn’t a teenager associate one with the other?

The dangers of tobacco and alcohol use are very well documented, so I will not labour the point. However there are several places we can go to seek help quitting those potentially dangerous habits. But that is not the case with this country’s – and indeed others worldwide – health ticking time bomb.

If I am addicted to sugar, I cannot take up counselling. If I’m addicted to sugar, there are no aids out there that will help me quit. But sugar is a different story, and having taken some statistics into account, it is safe to say it is causing this country a bit of a problem.

Let’s look at some of those stats:

  • Eight per cent of three year-olds have visible signs of tooth decay
  • One in four five year-olds also do
  • Around one in four men and one in four women are classed as clinically obese
  • Childhood obesity continues to increase – one in six is obese
  • The NHS is spending £47bn treating the problem – more than what we spend on the war against terror

Sugar - close up imageSo, if obesity is growing, and the problem is the amount of sugar we consume, why has one of London’s most iconic tourist attractions joined forces with one of the main protagonists?

Health experts are increasingly labelling sugar as ‘just as bad as tobacco’. In fact some experts have gone as far as labelling it as bad as crack cocaine. If this truly is the case, we must lobby for sugar to be treated like alcohol and tobacco. They should adhere to the same advertising rules. The London Eye had an opportunity to take a stance against sugar. It did not.

That is why the Children’s Food Campaign will be at the Southbank on the day of the annual opening to dispense free toothbrushes to some of the first visitors in the queue, and to publicise the Children’s Health Fund (sugary drinks duty). I urge you, even if you’re not in central London tomorrow, to support the campaign. It will help to bring about improvements in not only the nation’s waistlines, but their teeth too.

Written by David Westgarth

  

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