I was just watching TV earlier today – something which is becoming a new favorite of mine: “Markante Meninger” on TV2 OJ (the regional part of TV2 Denmark in Eastern Jutland, including Aarhus and its greater area where I live and study). “Markante meninger” means something like “significant opinions”. Two individuals are invited to discuss a small handful of current subjects – and I find that this is usually done in a pleasent manner. A favorite repeat individual of mine is Lotte Heise, an author and lecturer who is famous for saying a lot in a short amount of time (and being hilariously good at that).
One of the subjects that came up were children’s and teenagers’ teeth being severely damaged from acid which soda and fruit juice contains. There were some explicit photos from Tandplejen (dentists attached to primary schools in Denmark – and let me remind you again that the primary school in Denmark is up to the 9th and optional 10th form), showing teeth damaged by acid, from drinking soda and juice.
Honestly, this is the first time it occurred to me what happened to a specific trade of my teeth. I used to take lessons in horseback riding which included being thrown off by a horse every now and then. At some point, I chipped my tooth in the fall. That can’t be seen today. Granted, it was not much more than a tiny splinter – definitely not as obvious as Jim Carrey in “Dumb and Dumber” – and it has been a few years since then to say the least, but it does squeal about how “good” I have been at choosing water all by myself as a youngster (it didn’t get better until recent years).
The question for debate was what was to be done to avoid these sort of damages to children’s teeth.
I remember the first time I was in secondary school (gymnasiet), I remember there being a vending machine from Coca-Cola in the hallway, and the cafeteria selling sodas from Pepsi. Luckily, as it was pointed out in the program, most schools have removed this sort of vending machines. And Lotte Heise had a good point of giving her children some lemonade for lunch, but then have them drink water the rest of the day (and for that reason, the school cafeteria shouldn’t sell sodas, juice, etc.). She also had a point (as I understood it) with a bottle with a screw cap becoming sort of a nursing bottle (or as I would put it: a sippy cup – but her imagery is better!); you just automatically and mindlessly drink from it – and that not being a problem as long as the contents of the bottle is water; the problem occurs when the contents is soda, juice, etc.
Her opponent had an excellent point in each individual having a responsability for oneself, and I do agree on that part; but I have to agree with Heise that at primary school age, the parents have a responsability as well. Adults know right from wrong, good from bad, and healthy from unhealthy. They have to pass that on to the kids – and no, I don’t think that is done by putting wrong, bad, and unhealthy right there in front of the children’s noses. Then it’s too easy to react to the impulses from one’s reptile brain (lust = “I want”).
I’m not saying that removing these beverages from school compound will stop the students completely – no beverages were sold at my primary school, and as we grew older and had signed consent forms from our parents saying that we could leave school compounds on our own, we could just go to the convenient stores and supermarkets nearby in the longer breaks if we really wanted it – but it’s a start.
Speaking from experience, it’s easy to choose water instead of soda when being used to drinking water. But that’s the thing, you have to be used to it. It has to be a habit. Being an addict of caffeine and lover of sweets myself I know how difficult it can be to make that choice sometimes – and luckily I’m a fan of coffee with access to a coffee machine, places to buy and grind my coffee, and the money to buy coffee. Thus I’m able to kill my desire for caffeine with a cup or two and drink water when thirsty on a daily basis. And again, an addiction is related to habits in my humble opinion – something I don’t really need, but has been incorporated thoughout life.
When Heise spoke of the explicit warnings on packs of cigarettes and suggested that dentists came to the schools to show off the explicit images of what happens when teeth collide with too much acidy matter, I came to think that it might not be a bad idea. Not only do we have school nurses who I remember speaking of overweight with a boy in my class, but we also have sexual education – so why not learn about what bad stuff do to our bodies? I remember the boy being pretty open about his weight (we went to regular chats with the nurse in pairs), people actually being interested, and even the boys engaged in sex ed and saying things properly (like asking serious questions using the word penis instead of bad or everyday words for it), so why not?
Just my two cents.
Edit: Watch the show right here. Just know that it’s in Danish.