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Early Dental Visits: Can Prevent Obesity in Children

Eating Behaviors Can be Good or Bad

When talking about children’s dental health, parents have a huge role in guiding their child towards proper hygiene routine and eating habits. It has been proved that what children eat is a determinant of their state of health. The types of food and drinks they take, how often and how much are behavioral patterns that parents should check. One of the effects of bad eating behavior is weight gain, a potential hazard.

From the University of Gothenburg, Sahlgrenska Academy, Sweden, a thesis was published on the dental health of 271 pre-school and primary school children in the country. A sub-study included their eating behavior and BMI. The children’s height, weight, and food intake over one day were compared with the prevalence of cariogenic microorganisms in saliva. There was no doubt about the link. The children who had higher amount of caries bacteria also had significantly higher BMI and worse eating habits. They consumed more sugar-rich foods and ate more frequently.

Fortunately in Sweden, children meet their dentists at an early age so there is timely intervention and children become aware about good and bad eating habits. However, there is a need for a good level of collaboration between the general dentistry, the child health care and schools.

Children who followed to a higher extent the general dietary recommendations – whole grain products, 400-500 grams of fruit and vegetables per day, fish two to three times a week and a low intake of sugar and saturated fat – reported better outcomes. They had better mental well-being, increased self-esteem, better relationships with friends and fewer emotional problems. Research further shows that good self-esteem could be linked to the healthier eating habits, two years later. It was reported that the effects were achieved regardless of socio-economic background, and regardless of the children’s weight.

The study also highlights that children between the age of 2-10 who were stopped from eating by their parents were generally overweight 5-6 years later. It doesn’t work that way. Parents have to look at other methods to control their child’s eating habits. The researchers say that parents have to also make healthy choices for themselves. The entire thesis is based on data from a large European study, the aim of which is to document and prevent childhood obesity.

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Children’s Oral Health in Lynnwood

Early dental visits are key to molding parents and children to the awareness of right eating habits. Here at Song Dental in Lynnwood, we inculcate the proper eating behavior to avoid the perils of obesity.