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Sugar – the most common reason kids get a general anesthetic in New Zealand


The most common reason children get a general anesthetic in New Zealand is to pull out painful rotting teeth, costing the taxpayer $5000.00 per operation.

Back in 2012 I worked as the researcher on a programme fronted by Nigel Latta, a popular psychologist in New Zealand, as part of ‘The Hard Stuff’ series. It was on sugar and the its detrimental effects.

One of the most sobering was the sheer number of children going under anaesthetic to get their painful and decaying baby teeth out. The reason they were decayed was because they drank drinks containing sugar. Kids (and adults too) should never drink sugar. Not juice, not soft drinks, not sugary coffees or hot chocolates (occasional treat is ok).

On average New Zealanders are consuming 1.3 kg a week in pure sugar, 600 empty calories a day, 37 teaspoons. This displaces food that is nutrient rich. If there is one small thing you can do to improve your diet – ditch the sugar.

This is a slide from one of my seminars showing how easy it is to get excess sugar in one or two meals. Remember the WHO recommends no more than 6 teaspoons a day.

Here is a link to the programme- enjoy the watch, it is sadly still pertinent 5 years on.


For a detailed instructions on how you can have less sugar in your diet – see my earlier post

How much sugar’s in my food? What to eat instead. Nigel Latta’s sugar show


  1. It’s good to see health professionals becoming activists and speaking out as Rob Beaglehole has. Alistair Humphries is another good example of this. Although they are both fans of fluoridation which is not great for we thyroid patients…

  2. Hi Julianne,

    Sugar addiction is a global epidemic. It would be interesting if you could make or provide a slide showing what happened in Finland during World War II when there was an embargo (shortage) of sugar and the Finns instead extracted Xylitol from their millions of birch trees. The rate of tooth decay plummeted since Xylitolis a pentose sugar that can not be metabolized by S.mutans – the bacteria that causes tooth decay. In fact xylitol reduces the amount of S.Mutans in your mouth. I believe Finland has programs that use Xylitolin schools instead of sugar. Xylitol tastes very good and I actually have brushed my teeth with it for many years. I had 25 cavities in one year at age 12 because I sucked on sugar cubes, drank sugary sodas & ate lots of sugar-laden foods.Then at age 18 I completely eliminated sugar and 99% of processed sugar-containing foods. I have not had one cavity in the last 50 years.Just goes to show what one change can do for your health. Thanks for all your great posts Julianne!

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