Children, tooth decay and obesity Healthy eating starts young

Children, tooth decay and obesity
Healthy eating starts young

Children with a high body mass index (BMI) are more likely to suffer from tooth decay than children of the same age who are not overweight. This is the finding of a recent survey conducted by the Poliklinik für Zahnerhaltungskunde, a dental clinic in Mainz. The finding is explained by a high consumption of sweets. “This correlation strengthens our desire to raise parents’ awareness of BMI and diet,” says Dr Kristina Lickvers, a health expert at Central Krankenversicherung. She demonstrates simple, fun ways of significantly lowering children’s sugar intake.

According to the German association of children’s dentists, 15 per cent of young children have serious dental problems. One of the reasons for this is the widespread fallacy that milk teeth simply fall out, so it does not matter if they rot. Moreover, only half of six and seven-year-olds who suffer from milk tooth decay are taken for dental treatment by their parents. The main cause of tooth decay is sugar in all its forms, which is also partly responsible for people being overweight or obese. It therefore makes sense for parents to check their children’s BMI regularly. Since the BMI of children depends on gender and age, unlike the adult BMI, parents should use an appropriate BMI calculator for children, such as the one provided by Central at www.central.de/kinderbmi.

The advice to ‘start them young’ applies to diet as well as dental hygiene. It is recommended that young children are given a varied, low-sugar diet right from the start. To reduce the craving for sweets, a good alternative is to provide several small meals throughout the day. But snacks in particular often contain sugar and fat. Lots of these snacks aimed at children actually have a very high proportion of sugar, and even supposedly healthy fruit juice drinks can contain up to 150 g of sugar per litre. It is advisable to check the label for the words ‘no added sugar’.

A healthy attitude to sugar is not hard and can be acquired easily. The health expert at Central Krankenversicherung, Dr Kristina Lickvers, has therefore compiled some everyday tips for parents:

* Prepare lemonade and fruit juice drinks yourself
Mix mineral water and a squeezed lemon or orange with a little honey.
* Stimulate the child’s interest
Parents who cook with their children can pass on valuable information and interest them in healthy eating.
* Make healthy food fun
To make a ‘radish sweet’, for instance, place a cube of cheese between two radish halves and spear with a cocktail stick.
* Homemade fruit sorbet
Puree fruit with a high water content (mango, melon, pear, etc.) pour into moulds and leave in the freezer for at least two hours. Alternative: use fruit juice with no added sugar.

For further information on this topic and for Central’s BMI calculator for children, please visit www.central.de.

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