Dental Tribune Asia Pacific

Initiative includes voices of schoolchildren in fight against excessive sugar consumption

By Dental Tribune International
December 17, 2019

MELBOURNE, Australia: A major contributor to quality oral health is awareness and education. With this in mind, the Australian Dental Association (ADA) has been partnering with Rethink Sugary Drink to help inspire school students across the country to reduce their sugar intake and become more informed about topics such as diet and nutrition. In a recent initiative, school students were asked to critique nine different public health TV commercials on the dangers of sugar and pick the one they believed was the most thought-provoking and the most effective at getting its message across to audiences. The programme, known as Critics’ Choice, has been running for three years.

As reported by Dental Tribune International, a 2018 oral health report showed that more than 90% of Australian adults have experienced caries in their permanent teeth. Named the Oral Health Tracker, the report exposed a number of concerns, including the over-consumption of sugar by three out of four Australian children and young people, and an adult population where only slightly more than half brush their teeth twice a day.

Speaking about Critics’ Choice, Craig Sinclair, head of prevention at Cancer Council Victoria, which is also a partner of Rethink Sugary Drink, said: “At a time when young Australians are bombarded with a huge amount of sugary drink marketing it’s great to see primary and secondary schools incorporating Critics’ Choice as part of the curriculum.”

This year’s winner was an advertisement that shows a man running across the Australian countryside in an attempt to work off the sugary drinks he is consuming. The ad makes a stark point in detailing that it takes running for 3 km to expend the energy of just one can of drink. The initiative goes further than just voting, and the programme encourages teachers to complete activities from the teacher resource and initiate classroom discussion around the advertisements—all of which is helping to promote more awareness of the importance of oral health.

“By voting and discussing the important messages delivered in these anti-sugary drink campaigns, students are able to see for themselves what big beverage brands neglect to share—the real damage regularly consuming sugary drinks can have on our health,” noted Sinclair.

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