Sugar to take center stage at the 2018 World Dental Congress in Buenos Aires
FDI, the NCD Alliance, and the World Health Organization (WHO) will lead a joint session at the 2018 World Dental Congress in Buenos Aires, Argentina, as part of their ongoing engagement and commitment to confront oral diseases and other noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) through collaboration and exchange.
The session, Curbing the Sugar Rush: Tackling oral disease and other NCDs through a unified approach, will focus on the alarming escalation of global sugar* consumption. A panel of health experts, including high-level health advocates and civil society activists, will offer strategies to combat this global health threat through cost-effective and preventive interventions. Reducing daily intake of added sugar improves oral health outcomes and helps to reduce the incidence of other NCDs.
This joint session will build upon the success of the special session at the 2017 World Dental Congress, No Health Without Oral Health: How the dental community can leverage the NCD agenda to deliver on the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, organized in collaboration with the NCD Alliance.
*In this article, sugar refers to ‘free sugars’ that are added to foods and drinks by the manufacturer, cook, or consumer, and sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juice and fruit juice concentrates (WHO). It does not refer to sugar that is naturally present in fruits, vegetables, and milk.
Introducing the joint session speakers
Curbing the Sugar Rush: Tackling oral disease and other NCDs through a unified approach brings together distinguished specialists with unique, complementary fields of expertise.
Dr Fiona Adshead
Dr Fiona Adshead joined the NCD Alliance in January 2018 as Deputy CEO and Director of Strategy and Partnerships. Throughout her career, Dr Adshead has worked across tobacco control, obesity prevention, healthy diets, and physical activity and has implemented health improvement measures and addressed health inequalities.
Dr Stefan Listl
Evaluating Economic and Social Impacts of Integrated NCD-dental Strategies Targeting Sugar Consumption
Dr Listl will review the most advanced methods to assess the impacts of integrated NCD-dental strategies that target sugar consumption. He will focus specifically on the taxation of sugar-rich foods and beverages, transparent food and nutrition labelling, and broader public health and health promotion programmes.
Dr Stefan Listl is a dentist, economist, professor, and member of the FDI Vision 2020 Think Tank, which supports FDI’s advocacy work.
Dr Esperanza Cerón
Overcoming Industry Interference: Raising public awareness to reduce sugar intake
Dr Cerón will highlight the role of civil society organizations in creating public awareness campaigns to educate consumers and support informed decision-making. Dr Cerón will detail her own experience in implementing an awareness-raising campaign on sugar-sweetened beverages in Bogotá, Colombia. In 2016 and 2017, Educar Consumidores (Educate Consumers) produced a televised public service announcement (PSA), on the harms of sugary drinks. The PSA 'Take It Seriously' was banned following a formal complaint to the government by the country’s leading soft drink company.
Dr Esperanza Cerón is Executive Director of the civil society organization Educar Consumidores, based in Bogotá, Colombia, which links issues of gender, health, nutrition, law, education, economics and the environment.
Dr Benoit Varenne
Policy Measures to Promote the Reduction of Free Sugars Intake: Moving forward from recommendations to action – WHO perspectives
Dr Varenne will detail the work of the WHO Oral Health Programme to identify a set of cost-effective and sustainable solutions, or ‘best buys’, for oral health. WHO recommends that countries consider taxing energy-dense beverages and foods and/or subsidizing nutrient-rich foods to improve diets and prevent NCDs, including dental caries. Dr Varenne will provide an update on gains and challenges of such multisectoral strategies and will identify approaches and ways forward to ensure a new upswing of public oral health interventions.
Dr Benoit Varenne is Oral Health Programme Officer in the NCD Prevention Department at WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. He leads WHO’s work on the oral health global agenda.
Diets high in sugar amplify risk of developing chronic diseases
Excessive intake of sugar added to snacks, processed food, and beverages is closely linked to the increasing prevalence of NCDs globally, including oral diseases, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Each year, NCDs cause 40 million deaths worldwide and disproportionately affect low-and middle-income countries.
The NCD Alliance and the World Health Organization
The NCD Alliance unites a network of over 2,000 civil society organizations in more than 170 countries with the mission to combat the NCD epidemic by placing health at the centre of all policies. Together, FDI and the NCD Alliance can address common issues, such as the damaging effects of added sugar, and integrate oral health into NCD policies.
WHO is one of the most influential voices within the global health community. In 2015, WHO established international guidelines on daily sugar consumption. For optimal health benefits, WHO recommends that children and adults limit the amount of sugar that they eat and drink to a maximum of 25 grams per day. FDI and WHO work closely to advance the global agenda on oral health.
FDI advocacy acts on noncommunicable diseases
FDI developed its own advocacy materials to combat the harmful effects of sugar. In 2016, FDI published Sugars and Dental Caries: A practical guide to reduce sugar consumption and curb the epidemic of dental caries. The guide raises awareness of the role of sugar in the development of dental caries and promotes oral health within the broader global public health agenda.
FDI is also actively involved in the wider conversation on NCDs within the global health community.
FDI will represent the oral health community at the third UN High-level meeting on NCDs on 27 September in New York City, where governments will review progress made in the prevention and control of NCDs within the context of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. FDI will strive to ensure that oral health perspectives are integrated into the meeting agenda and outcome document.
FDI recently conducted a survey among its National Dental Associations to work towards its advocacy goal of including oral health in general health and NCD policies. The survey gathered information on national oral health plans and noncommunicable disease plans integrating oral health. Results of the survey will serve to map out and inform FDI members of existing oral health plans in different countries. These plans may act as models for the development of other oral health plans in specific country contexts.