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Benefits to school sugar policies: study

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 11/01/2017

Strict nutrition policies at schools can reduce the average number of dental cavities in children, according to an Auckland study.

Researchers compared the teeth of pupils who attended Yendarra School, which has a decile-one rating, in Otara between 2007 and 2014, with that of children from eight similar primary schools nearby.

At Yendarra, sugary drinks and food are restricted, whereas the other schools did not have such a policy.

An analysis of the records of more than 3800 children who had dental examinations found that those at Yendarra had fewer cavities.

In a linear model, mean number of carious primary and adult teeth was 0.37 lower.

Lead author Dr Simon Thornley says the nutrition policy, implemented in a school in the poorest region of south Auckland, was associated with a marked positive effect on the oral health of pupils, compared with those in surrounding schools.

Dr Thornley, from the Auckland Regional Public Health Service, says the researchers recommend such policies as a useful means of improving child oral health.

He says the measures are also likely to reduce health-care costs associated with the treatment of dental caries.

The study has been published in the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health.

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