'Potato chips better than raisins', dentist claims

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A dentist has caused an internet storm by saying that children would be better off eating potato chips than raisins. But while children everywhere rejoice, we may need to dig a little bit deeper than the headline before we get too excited.

Ben Atkins from the British Dental Association told The Times dried fruit is more damaging to kids' teeth than chips because the stickiness of the fruit is like "gluing sugar to kids' teeth".

He said that although some packets of flavoured chips contain sugar, those that are just salted are fine.

So what we've got is a dentist looking at kids' snacks purely through the lens of how they are for their teeth. Not so shocking, although not exactly responsible either.

Professor Damien Walmsley, Scientific Advisor to the British Dental Association, told the Huffington Post, "Snacking should be limited as far as possible. When we eat, the bacteria in the mouth start producing the acids that cause tooth decay, and sugar will send them into overdrive.

"Whether you prefer sweet or savoury, reaching for snacks between meals can take its toll on teeth."

Which is great, except if you have real children and live in the real world, where snacking is mandatory because, "Muuuuuuuuuuum, I'm hungry!" All. The. Time.

What Ben and Damien both failed to mention is that there are other snacking options out there that aren't sugar or chips. And that although teeth are important, as parents, we're responsible for the entire body, not just the mouth.

Spokesperson for the National Obesity Forum Tam Fry told Huffington Post dried fruit is a "terrible idea" for kids' snacks, but "so are crisps".

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"Dried fruit is full of sugar that clings to the teeth," he said. "If the teeth are not brushed after the meal, which is hard to do at school, it starts to rot the enamel.

"If you're going to put any fruit in a child's lunch bag, it should be fresh fruit – the fibre is hugely helpful. Eating crisps instead – I don't think that's good advice at all. Crisps have a lot of salt, particularly for young children."

Tam says there are many better options for lunch box snacks, with fresh fruit being at the top of the list.

The New South Wales Government's Healthy Kids website suggests some great snacks for kids are fresh fruit and vegetables (served with low fat dip if desired), rice cakes topped with healthy spreads and fresh fruit or vegetables, yoghurt, and healthy fruit muffins.