Each year 35,000 children aged 12 years and under have rotten teeth extracted due to excessive sugar in their diets – mainly from sugary drinks and other junk foods. Recently, ActionStation member and dentist Rob Beaglehole extracted multiple teeth from a child still in nappies – an increasingly common procedure, he says. This is heart breaking for everyone involved and entirely preventable.
Through advertising the big junk food industry has a significant influence on our children’s food preferences. Despite the best efforts of parents to promote healthy eating, kids are being told by big budget marketing departments that junk food and sugary drinks are desirable. The reality is they’re rotting our children’s teeth.
We have a chance to change this if we act now. Within the next two months Jonathon Coleman, the Minister of Health, will be recommending a set of actions to address this health crisis. With a huge wave of political pressure we can move the Minister to restrict the marketing of junk food and sugary drinks.
Doctors, dentists and public health professors are already speaking out in support of limits on marketing junk food to kids . And the majority of New Zealanders agree - a recent poll found 72% of Kiwis want stronger restrictions on junk-food promotions to children.  Science and public opinion are agreed on this, all we need to do is present a united front and put enough pressure on the Minister to force him to take this first step.
It is time to end the unnecessary pain and suffering caused by the high consumption of junk food, especially sugary drinks. It’s not just teeth that are being affected; this high sugar diet is having a huge impact on our children's general health, for example, the current epidemic of childhood obesity and type II diabetes.
Our kids are watching their sporting heroes slugging back bottles of sports drinks containing 3 days worth of a child’s daily recommended amount of sugar. If we want to protect our kids and address this health crisis, the first step needs to be restricting advertising of junk food directly to our children.
The Minister’s current position is that we can exercise our way out of the obesity and diabetes epidemics , but this will not improve the oral or general health of our children. However cutting back on high sugar junk food will. Don’t just take my word for it - the Prime Minister's chief science advisor; Sir Peter Gluckman agrees. He co-chairs The World Health Organization’s Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity which will call for major restrictions on unhealthy food marketing to children.
The evidence is on our side, all we need to do now is demonstrate with a massive show of public support for a restriction on unhealthy food marketing to children, so sign on and let’s tackle this crisis in our children's health.
Our children deserve an environment where making the healthy choice is the easy, normal and preferred choice. Protecting children from exploitative marketing is simply a matter of the rights of the child.
Will you sign now to demand limits on marketing unhealthy food directly to children?
1. We need to protect kids from junk food ads - survey, Jul 20, 2015, NZ Herald
2. Govt again rebuffs plea for fizzy drink tax, Jun 29 2015, Radio NZ