An email from Dr. Rob Beaglehole about the Marlborough sugar ban

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Yesterday I ran an article about the strange decision of the Marlborough District Council to look at banning sugary drinks.

I also gave Dr. Rob Beaglehole a sound kicking as well.

I am opposed to councils meddling like this, especially if that same council has decided not to put fluoride in their water. It is my contention that in the case highlighted yesterday that poor parenting firstly and then intransigent councils are the problem, not sugar in drinks.

Dr. Beaglehole phoned me yesterday and we had a friendly discussion about the issue. I suspect we will never agree on the issue of sugary drinks but we do agree on fluoride.

He has emailed me his thoughts and I publish those unedited and with his permission. 


 

Hi Cam

Good to talk and discuss with you my favourite topics – teeth, sugar and fluoride. I understand where you are coming from re: personal choice. However, one thing I do know, is that the 2 year old that I took out all those teeth from did not choose to have his teeth extracted…

As I said I have been very active lobbying for water fluoridation around the country and have been hammered by the anti-fluoridationists for the stance that I have taken as the NZ Dental Association Spokesperson on water fluoridation. As discussed with you I have already spoken to the MDC about water fluoridation. Their response was that they thought it is a health issue and that the decision should be taken out of their hands and given to the Government. What we really need is for the government to take Sir Peter Gluckman’s report to heart and to force/encourage the Councils to fluoridate their water supplies (just like they add chlorinate to the water). Remember, this would reduce tooth decay by approximately 40%.

At the end of the day all I want is to do is to reduce the numbers of painful, abscessed teeth that need to be taken out from young children. Some ways of achieving this are to advocate for water fluoridation and sugary drink reduction strategies. Not only will these measures reduce tooth decay and pain and suffering but they will also reduce the horrendous bill to taxpayers. Every time a child has a general anaesthetic to have rotten teeth out it costs taxpayers approximately $4000 each! Last year just over 5000 kids had a general anaesthetic to have their painful, abscessed teeth extracted. In total 34,000 children had one or multiple teeth extracted across the country (mostly under local anaesthetic).

You and I are smart enough to realise the amount of sugar in a sugary drink but there are plenty of people out there who have no idea and continue to give their kids this stuff to drink – with significant consequences, both to the individuals who suffer, but also to taxpayers who continue to pay for fixing up the mess that these drinks cause.

Anyway Cam, I am pleased that we see eye to eye on water fluoridation and I look forward to seeing how we can work together in getting this message across.

 

Regards

Rob

Dr Rob Beaglehole, BSc, BDS, MSc Dental Public Health (London)

Principal Dental Officer
Community Oral Health Service
Nelson Marlborough District Health Board


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