Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The foods destroying your teeth

Classic Coke, 12 oz. can (CCR1000) Category: Miscellaneous Beverages and MixesI remember a few years ago being absolutely horrified when I saw a mum pushing her baby in a pram, while the baby was sucking whole-heartedly on a baby bottle full of what looked like Coke.

Yes, I drink Coke Zero more often than is probably healthy. I even have the occasional Red Bull, but I am also an adult and make my own choices about my body and my health – even if they are bad choices. Babies and small children rely on their parents to make the right decisions for them.

I am not a parent myself so perhaps I shouldn’t judge, but I just can’t think of a situation where it is excusable to feed a baby or even a toddler foods that is so obviously unhealthy for them.

But what about foods we think are healthy? Working with the Australian Dental Association's Victorian Branch, consumer association CHOICE has compared the sugar content and acidity of 85 processed foods and drinks and categorised them as high, moderate or low risk.

CHOICE spokesman Brad Schmitt says the survey found some surprising results. "While it's no surprise the usual suspects such as fizzy drinks and lollies are in the high risk category, unfortunately a number of products that are promoted as healthy snacks for kids' lunchboxes are also high risk and can contribute to tooth decay and erosion," he says.

“These products aren't only full of sugar, they also have high acidity levels which can directly damage the enamel surface of teeth."

According to CHOICE examples include Kellog's Nutri-Grain bars, Uncle Tobys Apricot Muesli bars, Golden Circle Orange Juice and fizzy drinks such as Pepsi and market leader Coca-Cola.

Making the high acid category are two caffeine-loaded sugar-free energy drinks Red Bull and V Energy and several sports drinks including Powerade (no sugar) and Staminade Lemon Lime Fusion. Such products may be free of sugar but all have a higher acid reserve than most other fizzy drinks.

"Tooth decay is on the rise and dentists rightly blame our increasing consumption of sugary snacks and drinks, including fruit juices and fruit drinks," Brad says. "But there are many other foods and drinks that are potentially harmful for our teeth, so the advice is consider high-risk foods and drinks as a once-a-week treat and regularly brush and floss your teeth.

"And if you really want to avoid a visit to the dentist, try drinking milk or water instead of Coke or Pepsi."

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