Box of raisins contains almost the same amount of sugar as a can of Coke and 'causing teeth decay' in young children
A box of raisins is regarded as a healthy snack that is easy to pop in a child's lunchbox - but it can contain nearly as much sugar as a can of Coke.
Dentists are warning that an over-reliance on the sticky snack can begin to rot the teeth of young children.
A 42.5g box of raisins, which usually comes in a six pack, contains 26g, or up to six teaspoons, of sugar. This is nearly the same as a can of Coke at 33g of sugar.
Even the smaller 14g boxes of raisins that come in large multi-packs can contain 10g, or up to three teaspoons, of sugar.
Dr Gillian Smith, who won Sensodyne Dentist of the Year in 2012 for her work with special needs patients, says raisins are causing a lot of teeth decay in young children.
"We would see huge numbers of children presenting with cavities or holes in their teeth and the only thing that causes them is sugar.
"We would see a lot of parents who would give their children a box of raisins in their lunch box.
"It's a handy snack and kids like to eat them but the warning is that one box of raisins contains about 25g of sugar, which is about five teaspoons of sugar,.
"The other thing about raisins is they're very sticky and so they get stuck between your teeth. So if you're having that at 11 o'clock in the day, those raisins and those sugary lumps can be stuck on your teeth for hours maybe until the child meets their toothbrush that night."
About 50pc of Dr Smith's patients in her practice, the Dental Suite, are children.
Parents of her patients are motivated to give their children nutritious diets but sometimes they are unaware of where the hidden sugars lie. They will then be disappointed when another food is taken out off the lunchbox list.
"You can buy little boxes of fruit, like boxed-up grapes or blueberries, the piece of fruit is much healthier than the sticky dried fruit," she said.
Dr Smith also argues against the idea that baby teeth are not important because when a child loses a baby tooth early, space can be lost in the mouth for the adult tooth arriving later.
Consultant dietician Gillian McConnell says raisins have a number of nutritional benefits but advises that there are different ways you can consume them to help reduce teeth decay.
"Don't forget that raisins are a good energy booster, help prevent against constipation and are rich in iron, potassium and antioxidants," said Ms McConnell of Inside Out Nutrition.
"The sugars in dried fruits like raisins are very concentrated, so serve them with a meal, for example, chopped dried apricots on porridge or sultanas on a salad, rather than nibbling handfuls throughout the day."