Snacking on treats in front of the television for several hours a day not only increases a child's risk of becoming obese, but also of developing dental decay. In an article entitled, Dental caries and obesity in children: Different problems, related causes, published in the latest issue of Quintessence International, the author shares some insights about possible relationships between obesity and dental decay in children. 'When children watch a lot of TV, they tend to snack more frequently, particularly on foods that are high in fat and/or sugar,' says the report's author, Carole Palmer, professor of general dentistry at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine. 'This not only increases their overall caloric intake, which we know can lead to obesity, but it also increases their risk of developing tooth decay because the amount of time food is in contact with the teeth increases.' Palmer says that it is the usage pattern of certain foods and beverages, not the total consumption, that is associated with an increased risk of tooth decay in children. 'In that way, the cause of dental disease in children does differ slightly from that of obesity, but both diseases clearly share common denominators,' says Palmer. Childhood obesity and dental decay result from complex interactions among several factors. Many of the contributing factors are rooted in evolving changes in lifestyle and environment, including changes in physical activity and school food services. The author notes that many schools in the US have reduced their physical activity programs, and parents are hesitant to allow their children to play outdoors because of concerns about safety. As a result, children are spending more time engaged in sedentary indoor activities, especially television viewing, a situation not too dissimilar from that in the UK.
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Relationship between obesity and dental decay in children. Br Dent J 199, 761 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.bdj.4813097