Sunday, October 09, 2011

An apple is bad for your teeth but Coke is safe!

You can't win! A Coke for the teacher? One thing is sure: Ignore all advice from epidemiologists

Eating apples can be up to four times more damaging to teeth than carbonated drinks, according to new research. Wine and lager also increase the risk of dental damage but pickled onions and grapefruit, which are consumed less frequently, do not.

'It is not only about what we eat, but how we eat it,' says Professor David Bartlett, head of prosthodontics at King's College London Dental Institute, who led the study.

'Doctors quite rightly say that eating apples is good, but if you eat them slowly the high acidity levels can damage your teeth. The drinks most often associated with dietary erosion, particularly cola, showed no increased risk.

The results emphasise that dietary advice should be targeted at strong acids rather than some of the commonly consumed soft drinks.'

In the new study, the researchers looked for links between tooth wear at several sites in the mouth, and diet in more than 1,000 men and women aged 18 to 30.

They looked for damage to the 2mm surface enamel of their teeth, and at the dentine, the main supporting structure of the tooth beneath the enamel, and compared it with diet.

People who ate apples were 3.7 times more likely to have dentine damage, while carbonated drink consumers had no additional risk.

Fruit juice increased the likelihood of damage to the enamel around the top of the teeth near the gums fourfold, while lager, which is acidic, raised the chances of dentine damage threefold.

Some apples contain as much as four teaspoons of sugar which contributes to raised acid levels in the mouth.

Dr Glenys Jones, nutritionist at the Medical Research Council's Human Nutrition Research unit, says: 'Fruit can be acidic and obviously does have a sugar content but I would not want anyone to be discouraged from consuming fruit and fruit juices.'

One suggestion is to eat your apple with milk or a piece of cheese as both contain calcium, which neutralises acid. Drinking water immediately after eating an apple will also help, washing away harmful effects.

Dr Jones adds: 'Drinking fruit juice and smoothies with a straw is a way of protecting your teeth. 'Brushing your teeth before eating acidic foods can also help because it provides a barrier between the food and the teeth.'


British PM's plan for a fat tax is clutching at straws

The PM should get the nation off its economic backside before worrying about our waistlines

Terry Wogan

So, the Prime Minister is “seriously considering a food levy to tackle Britain’s obesity crisis”. Give it a rest, Dave. This is a smokescreen everyone can see through. We’d prefer you to get the country off its backside first, then worry about our figures.

Anyway, Prime Minister, I know it’s the conker season but this is a very gnarled chestnut you’re trying to play with. Four years ago, the Labour health secretary, Alan Johnson, put it forcefully: “Obesity could be as big a crisis” – there’s that “c” word again – “as climate change, unless the nation starts to lose weight soon.”

At the time, some thinking people wondered how an increasing number of fat people could threaten all life on the planet. Perhaps, they speculated, heavier people have a deeper carbon footprint? Could the increase in weight make Earth fall out of its orbit? People were worried, but from on high, answer came there none.

Then, just in time to spare everybody’s feelings, came another report, a couple of days after Mr Johnson’s scary words, that being obese is not your fault. The nation let its belt out a couple of notches and breathed more freely again.

This new report said that, as we all suspected, being overweight is the result of “a society in which energy-dense and cheap foods, labour-saving devices, motorised transport and sedentary work are rife”. So, being obese is only partly to do with people choosing to stuff themselves with fatty food, or downing copious amounts of calorific booze. Fair’s fair, Cameron – if you’re serious about the fat levy, you’ll have to put extra tax on vacuum cleaners, washing machines, trains, cars and three-piece suites. Ed will have a field day.

And if you’re thinking, PM, that an easier way out would be to get everyone doing what P G Wodehouse called his “daily dozen” – callisthenics – it may be worth pointing out that our Stone Age ancestors didn’t drink or smoke, ate nothing but fruit and berries, got plenty of exercise running away from velociraptors, but never saw the wrong side of 35. On the other hand, the world’s oldest creature, the giant tortoise, has hardly moved a muscle in 200 years (to be fair, it only eats vegetables).

I’ve no wish to confuse the issue further, but a couple of years ago research revealed that modern food production is so energy-intensive that more carbon is emitted providing a person with the energy to walk to the shops than a car would emit covering the same distance.

So there you have it, Dave: exercise is not the answer, either, if you want to stay green. And if you want to stay in power, taxing cheap foods, which is what a “fat levy” will do, is only going to hurt further the people you need to help.


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