Watering down fizzy drinks should be government policy

FIZZY pop should not be the only option for drinks at family attractions.

ON Saturday I visited a safari park and was surprised to find not one of the kiosks selling refreshments sold water.

The only drinks options were of the fizzy variety, loaded with sugar.

While this in itself is worrying, the fact a safari park is a family attraction, and therefore draws youngsters in their multitudes, increases my concern that sugary drinks are the only liquid refreshments for sale.

Plainly and simply, fizzy drinks are bad for your teeth and can cause tooth decay.

An episode of BBC1’s Panorama screened in April this year and entitled Spoilt Rotten? highlighted how preventable childhood health problems are reaching epidemic proportions among the UK’s children, giving as an example a five-year-old having eight molars removed due to tooth decay.

More than half of the 1,000 dental operations carried out each year at Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool – the hospital featured in the Panorama programme – are on children under the age of six.

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The negative impact of tooth decay is far-reaching. Not only is it a health problem, but treating people with tooth decay puts an unnecessary burden on the NHS and forces taxpayers to fund treatment for something easily preventable. This wasted money could be used elsewhere within the NHS - for equipment, staff, research or life-saving operations, for instance.

Fizzy drinks, with their high calorie content, are also responsible for adding to the problem of obesity.

Obesity is on the increase in this country, and is another preventable health issue which is putting a strain on the resources of the NHS.

According to Government figures, there are currently 1.5 million children and 25 million adults who are overweight or obese, leaving them at increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease and liver disease. Being overweight can also lead to bullying, low self-esteem, difficulty in being active, and embarrassment when playing games or sports.

I think the Government should introduce a ruling which forces places open to the public - such as safari parks, museums, galleries and amusement parks - to include water as a choice of available refreshment.

The move could go a long way to improving the health of people’s teeth, reducing the rate of obesity, and taking some pressure off the NHS.