A top dentist in Wales has made an appeal for Coca-Cola’s Christmas truck to be banned from his town over child tooth decay fears.
For many, the arrival of Coca-Cola’s Christmas truck marks the beginning of the festive season and only adds to the excitement over the holidays.
But now a top dentist is drawing attention to the dangers the drink brings to child tooth decay due to its high sugar content, and has urged for the truck to be banned from his town of Swansea.
Karl Bishop, Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board’s clinical director for dentistry, said that marketing fizzy drinks towards children is making the fight against tooth decay and obesity harder.
‘It’s really disappointing to hear that the Coca-Cola truck is coming to Swansea this year,’ he told Wales Online.
‘Marketing and promotion of fizzy drinks towards children is not helpful in the continuing battle against poor oral health and childhood obesity.
‘The impact of fizzy drinks upon our children is evident when you see the shocking evidence of children with rotten teeth, and the high levels of obese children. Did you know that the number one reason for children undergoing treatment in a hospital is dental disease?
‘Plus, children who have too much sugar in their diet and are obese as a result are at high risk of developing long term damaging conditions such as diabetes.
‘I would urge parents to think hard about why global conglomerates like Coca-Cola do this. Is this about celebrating Christmas, or more a hard-edged business ploy aimed at introducing a new generation to their product, and to grow profits?
‘Dressing up a lorry in pretty fairy lights, and handing out ‘gifts’ of free drinks this way, is an excellent marketing tactic to link brands of fizzy drinks to the excitement of the Christmas in the minds of young people.
‘We, as responsible adults, need to make an informed choice and not fall for marketing hype. It’s our responsibility to act now to support a healthy lifestyle for the future generation.’
The dentist’s appeal follows a similar debate in Liverpool, where the Liberal Democrat party argued that the truck encourages an unhealthy lifestyle.
Writing to bosses at the shopping district where the truck will be, they urged them to ban the event, according to the Liverpool Echo.
The debate over Coca-Cola’s Christmas truck follows recent figures on child tooth decay, which showed that the number of children being treated in hospital for tooth decay is double those who are admitted for broken arms.
A 330ml can of Coca-Cola contains 35g of sugar, which is more than an adult’s daily recommended amount (30g)
Children being treated at hospital for tooth decay have to undergo general anaesthetic to have teeth extracted and other dental work, which Karl Bishop said is ‘almost entirely avoidable’.
Responding to the appeals to ban the festive truck, a spokesperson for Coca-Cola Great Britain said: ‘We do not provide drinks to under 12s unless their parent or guardian is present and happy for us to do so.
‘The fact is, as government data shows, sugar intake from soft drinks by both children and teenagers continues to decline and consumption of full sugar soft drinks in general has fallen by 44 per cent since 2002.
‘We will continue to take actions to help people to reduce the sugar they consume from our range of drinks, but the evidence suggests the current focus on sugar and soft drinks alone will not address the problem.’
What do you think of the debate? Would you like to see Coca-Cola’s Christmas truck banned from visiting your city? Let us know in the comments!