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NSW Health Minister slams Pete Evans for his anti-fluoride stance.

Image: Facebook.

UPDATE: NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner has condemned the anti-fluoride stance of My Kitchen Rules judge Pete Evans.

Skinner told the Daily Telegraph she stopped watching the reality cooking show when she learned of Evans’ views on fluoridated drinking water. Last year, the chef and paleo diet advocate was photographed wearing a Fluoride Free t-shirt, having met with the controversial lobby group to “discuss ideas”.

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“Here we are spending a lot of effort and energy in educating people about the value of fluoridation … and it is countered by a celebrity who knows nothing from a specialist point of view,” Skinner said.

“I’m highly disappointed that they would use a platform of cooking. That is totally inappropriate … and quite disturbing, which is why I won’t watch those programs any more.”

Evans responded to Skinner's comments in the Telegraph, saying he was open to discussing "the value of fluoridation" with the Health Minister, but asked that "she, or any other party, does not misrepresent my views, opinions or beliefs."

He also rebutted Skinner's additional suggestion that he held an anti-vaccination stance: “I have never spoken about vaccination, its risks or possible connections with any medical conditions."

The Glow previously reported...

It's been a controversial 12 months for Pete Evans.

Back in October, the celebrity chef and paleo diet advocate posted a 2100-word diatribe on his Facebook page, criticising the Dieticians Association of Australia and the Heart Foundation, and suggesting Australia's autism and mental illness rates are somehow linked to the healthy eating guidelines promoted by these two bodies.

Pete Evans slams the Heart Foundation in controversial Facebook rant

Now, the My Kitchen Rules host has apparently backed a Perth-based anti-fluoride lobby group.

Fluoride Free WA claims fluoridated drinking water - which is provided to most Australians through their kitchen taps and is supported by local health bodies including the AMA and Australian Dental Association - is 'harmful' and causes disease.

Evans confirms to The Daily Telegraph that he has met with Fluoride Free WA to "discuss ideas", telling the newspaper, "This is definitely something I am passionate about because I am a father and I care about future generations and where we’re headed."

In October, a photo of Evans wearing a Fluoride Free WA T-shirt appeared on the group's Facebook page, while on his own page he stated his family doesn't drink tap water.

“If you look at the number of countries who have reversed their fluoridation programs, it really raises alarm bells,” he tells the Daily Telegraph. “Fluoride in the water hasn’t always been there and we’re no better off now than when it wasn’t.”

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Medical professionals have slammed Evans for his alignment with the group, with AMA Victoria President Tony Bartone telling The Daily Mail the chef's comments lack "scientific research and understanding" and belong "in the Stone Age." (post continues after gallery)

Want more information about fluoridated water? Read this explainer from the University of Melbourne's Professor Mike Morgan, via The Conversation:

* * *

The most effective way to prevent tooth decay is delivered to most Australian homes every day through their water pipes. It is, of course, fluoride distributed via the water supply.

Dental decay occurs when acid destroys or demineralises the outer surface of the tooth – the enamel. Bacteria in the mouth from food and drinks containing sugar produces acid and fluoride repairs demineralisation before it becomes permanent. It does this by encouraging remineralisation or repair of the enamel surface. Fluoride also helps strengthen the mineral structure of developing teeth.

Fluoride is a naturally occurring compound found in plants and rocks and, in very low levels, in almost all fresh water. Sometimes, fluoride is found naturally in the water supplies of Australian communities at exactly the level recommended to reduce dental decay, but this is rare and happens by chance.

Community water ?uoridation is the adjustment of ?uoride in drinking water to a level that helps protect teeth against decay. Drinking water in many parts of Australia has been fluoridated since the early 1960s.

Although widely accepted and applauded as a crucial public health policy, fluoridation has attracted some vocal critics. Fluoridation opponents over the years have claimed that putting fluoride in water causes health problems, is too expensive and is a form of mass medication. Some go as far as to suggest that fluoridation is a communist plot and affects children’s IQ.

Despite these claims, fluoridation is supported by many national and international organisations including the World Health Organization, World Health Assembly, World Dental Federation, Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), Australian Dental Association and the Public Health Association of Australia.

In 2006, the WHO and the International Dental Federation and the International Association for Dental Research, released a statement endorsing community water fluoridation.

And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States includes water ?uoridation in its list of the top ten health initiatives of the twentieth century, alongside immunisation, compulsory seat belt wearing and smoking bans.

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In November 2007, the NHMRC completed a review of the latest scientific evidence in relation to ?uoride and health. Based on this review, the NHMRC recommended community water fluoridation programs as the most effective and socially equitable community measure for protecting the population from tooth decay. The scientific and medical support for the benefits of fluoridation certainly outweighs the claims of the vocal minority against it.

The recommended level varies around Australia and depends on the annual average maximum daytime temperature. In Victoria, for instance, the maximum level of ?uoride added to drinking water is one milligram per litre or one part per million as recommended by the World Health Organization.

In hotter climates where people drink more, the recommended level can drop to around 0.7 parts per million. As a comparison, the amount of ?uoride in children’s toothpaste is 400 to 500 parts per million. In regular toothpaste, it’s 1,000 parts per million.

Many toothpastes contain fluoride

We’ve known about the role of fluoride in reducing dental decay since the early part of the twentieth century and some countries, such as the United States, have been adding it to water and toothpastes since the 1950s.

Canberra was the first Australian capital city to be fluoridated – back in 1964. Melbourne has had community water fluoridation since 1977. And other parts of Australia have had fluoridated drinking water for more than 50 years.

Some communities in regional and rural Australia, previously without optimal water fluoridation, have recently started to receive fluoride through their drinking water as part of a program to prevent tooth decay and improve oral health. Australia has now achieved overall population coverage of 90%.

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But tooth decay remains signi?cant problem. In Victoria, for instance, more than 4,400 children under 10, including 197 two-year-olds and 828 four-year-olds, required general anaesthetic in hospital for the treatment of dental decay during 2009-10. Indeed, 95% of all preventable dental admissions to hospital for children up to nine years old in Victoria are due to dental decay.

Children under ten in non-optimally ?uoridated areas are twice as likely to require a general anaesthetic for treatment of dental decay as children in optimally ?uoridated areas.

Community water fluoridation remains a vital public health activity and has a key role to play in preventing dental decay and improving oral health for all Australians. The provision of drinking water through our pipes was never more important.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article here.

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