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Soft drinks, teens and cavities

Soft drink purchases by teens in schools increased 1,100 percent over the past 20 years, while dairy purchases have decreased by 30 percent, according to a new report in the January/February 2003 issue of General Dentistry, the Academy's clinical, peer-reviewed journal.

Although federal regulations prohibit the sale of soft drinks to students during lunch hours in most schools, soft drink machines line hallways, which means the goods are accessible to students all day long.

Marketers of soft drinks, an industry that earns $60 billion and produces 15 billion gallons of soft drinks a year, continue to win the 'pick me' consumption battle with teenagers, especially in schools," says Jonathan Shenkin, DDS, lead author of the new report.

Unfortunately, the increased availability and pervasive marketing of soft drinks in schools has overshadowed healthy alternatives," says Dr. Shenkin.

In 1977, 12- to 19-year-olds drank 16 ounces of soda a day. In 1996, this same group consumed an average of 28 ounces a day. Soda consumption has increased from 22.2 gallons of cola per person per year in 1970 to 56 gallons in 1999.

These statistics alarm dentists, who agree pouring rights contracts, in which schools accept advertising and sales deals to boost finances, has helped boost the amount of cavities in teens, which is reverting the oral health of many teens to a pre-fluoride condition, according to Cindy Flanagan, DDS, FAGD, spokesperson for the Academy.

Although Dr. Shenkin agrees more studies linking soft drinks to an increase in tooth decay are needed, and that the cause of cavities among teens can be multi-factorial, he strongly believes there is mounting evidence in this report that shows how soft drinks contribute to cavities in individuals that have high consumption rates.

We know most teens spend most of their day in school. We know they over consume soft drinks," says Dr. Shenkin. "We know these same teens also lack good nutriti
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Contact: Susan Urbanczyk
susanu@agd.org
312-440-4308
Academy of General Dentistry
4-Feb-2003


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