Doctors and dentists call for cigarette-style warnings for sweet packets

Doctors and dentists are calling for cigarette-style warnings on sweet packets to help warn children off sugar.

The policy could see photos of rotten teeth and fat children adorn the front of sweet wrappers alongside messages such as ‘Sugar can contribute to obesity and the need for fillings’.

Warnings on cigarette packets have been compulsory since 2008, and in that time the proportion of adults who smoke has fallen from 21 per cent to 16 per cent.

Doctors and dentists have called for sweet packets to carry cigarette-style warnings over sugar, complete with pictures of rotten teeth and fat children. Health officials hope similar warnings on sugary foods will lead to equally drastic falls in obesity and tooth decay in children.

A third of youngsters aged two to 15 are now overweight or obese, and around 34,000 children aged nine and under have had teeth removed in the last two years.

Tooth decay is the number one reason why children are admitted to hospital and need general anaesthetic – though it is preventable.

The policy will be discussed at the British Medical Association’s annual conference in Bournemouth this week. Its North West Regional Council is calling for the warnings, saying it is ‘dismayed’ by the tooth decay rate.

It wants Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to introduce ‘health warnings on the packaging of children’s foods where high sugar contents may contribute to tooth decay.’