Childhood obesity is a growing problem worldwide, with one in 10 children considered overweight and nearly 40 million children classified as obese. Childhood obesity can lead to further health issues later, including a higher risk of dental cavities and other oral health problems.
Teaching Good Oral Health Can Reduce Obesity
Registered dietitian and PhD student at Sweden’s Institute of Medicine, Louise Arvidsson, wrote her thesis on children’s diet, BMI, and well-being. In it, she reviewed the eating behavior, BMI, and dental health of 271 primary school children in Sweden. She found that the children who had higher amounts of caries bacteria also had significantly higher BMI and worse eating habits.
Just making children eat less isn’t effective. Ardvisson found that children between the age of 2-10 who were stopped from eating by their parents were generally overweight 5-6 years later. She believes there needs to be a stronger collaboration between dental health professionals, child health care, and schools to successfully fight obesity.
This is backed up by other studies that show possible relationships between obesity and dental decay in children. If a family dentist can discuss good nutrition and healthy habits with your child, as well as point out the connection between poor lifestyle habits in general and poor oral health – this could serve as a useful method to educate and motivate.
Parents should utilize all the tools available, which means dentists should be included in overseeing the medical needs of obese patients. As the Dean of the University of Pennsylvania says, “The problem with overeating starts with the mouth and dentists are responsible for caring for the mouth.”