Channel 4’s ‘Junk Food Kids’ filming in Leeds sparks tooth decay warning

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A Leeds dentist who sees some of the worst cases of childhood tooth decay in Yorkshire is urging parents to stop the rot.

The warning comes ahead of the broadcast of a new two-part Channel 4 documentary called ‘Junk Food Kids: Who’s To Blame?’, which was largely filmed in Leeds hospitals and will air on Wednesday at 10pm.

Uncovering some of the most extreme cases of childhood obesity and associated tooth decay, the series features one 13-year-old who weighs 16st and is being assessed for £12,000 gastric band surgery.

Last year the YEP revealed that nearly one in five children in Leeds suffer from tooth decay by the age of three – seven per cent higher than the national average.

Stephen Fayle, a consultant paediatric dentist at Leeds General Infirmary’s Leeds Dental Institute which features in the programme, said that although the series focuses on the worst end of the spectrum, childhood tooth decay is a “big public health risk”.

He said: “Between five to nine years of age, dental decay is the most common reason why children are coming into hospital care – many are having to have a general anaesthetic to have teeth removed.

“We need to make sure parents understand the importance of doing basic stuff before their children get to three like using fluoride toothpaste two times a day and avoiding letting children go to sleep with fruit based drinks – they often think it’s healthy. Even bottles of milk and formula milk is highly decay producing.”

Mr Fayle, who estimates that he takes out 7,000 to 10,000 children’s teeth a year, revealed that numerous times each year he will see children under three that have decay in all 20 baby teeth.

In 2013/14 26,000 children had to go to hospital to have rotten teeth removed under general anaesthetic in Britain, largely as a result of poor diet and a lack of tooth brushing.

Visit www.nhs.uk/livewell/dentalhealth for information on dental health or www.channel4.com/programmes/junk-food-kids-whos-to-blame for more on the Channel 4 programme.

Saphieh Ashtiany, the equality and employment lawyer

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