Could Focusing on Dental Health Help with Childhood Obesity?

Childhood obesity has been a widely recognized problem for years, but despite many initiatives aimed at getting this dangerous issue under control, it continues to affect an alarming number of children around the world.

But a thesis by a graduate student in Sweden recently shed light on a new idea that could help with childhood obesity in ways that other efforts have failed to do.

Louise Arvidsson dedicated her entire thesis while at the University of Gothenberg’s Institute of Medicine to understanding and helping find ways to prevent childhood obesity. Much of her research focused on identifying the most popular strategies and showing how they are not working. For example, diets and discouraging children from eating too much simply don’t do anything long term to help correct the problem or create healthier habits.

What she did discover might help is focusing on making healthy choices for teeth in order to encourage better overall eating habits and a healthier weight. One aspect of her thesis involved a study that looked at the BMI and dental health of 271 children. The kids with more cavity-related bacteria snacked more frequently and consumed diets higher in sugar. But, she found that parents and health care professionals who interact with children can have a positive impact on childhood obesity by encouraging kids to follow a healthy diet and pay attention to their oral health. She found that both children and adults had better overall health and well-being when they were made more aware of the importance of getting regular dental care.

Why Childhood Obesity Matters

Research from the government program “Let’s Move” shows that one-third of all children born after 2000 will likely develop diabetes at some point in their lives. These numbers are downright scary as diabetes is a life-threatening disease and even when under control can wreak havoc on one’s oral health. Patients with diabetes have to take even better care of their teeth than otherwise healthy patients because they’re at a much higher risk for gum disease and in turn tooth loss.

The solution seems simple enough. If you eat healthy foods that are good for your body and your teeth, the risk of obesity, diabetes, gum disease and many other health concerns drops significantly.

For more information on eating healthy for your body and mouth or to schedule a check-up or appointment, call us today at 970-221-5115.

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