Study links Preschoolers’ cavities and overweight

June 23rd, 2010 - 6:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, June 23 (IANS) Preschool children with tooth decay are more likely to be overweight and consume excess of calories than the general population, says a study.
“Poor eating habits may play a role in both tooth decay and obesity in preschoolers,” said the study’s lead author, Kathleen Bethin, who is an associate professor of paediatrics at the University of Buffalo (UB).

“Dental decay is the most common chronic disease of childhood and obesity in youth is a growing problem. To prevent these problems, the dentist’s office may be an important place to educate families about nutrition,” Bethin said.

The doctors at the Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, UB, studied the relationship between poor dental health and overweight in 65 children who were two to five years old.

All children needed dental help due to decay and had their dental procedure and blood work performed while they were under anaesthesia. Each child’s height and weight were measured before the procedure to calculate their body mass index (BMI). BMI is a measure to estimate healthy body weight based on a person’s height.

The child’s guardian filled a questionnaire about the child’s average daily food consumption.

Almost 28 percent of the children were overweight or obese compared with an estimated 21.2 percent in the general U.S. population.

Those 18 children, whose BMI was high for their age, had much higher total cholesterol levels than their healthy-weight counterparts, Bethin added. Of the total 65 children, 47 were a healthy weight.

However, the questionnaire showed that both the normal-weight and overweight children consumed more calories a day than recommended for their age (1,440 and 1,570 calories, respectively).

Seventy-one percent of children consumed more than 1,200 calories per day although the daily recommended caloric intake ranges from 1,000 to 1,400 calories depending on age and gender of the child, said a university release.

The results will be presented Saturday at The Endocrine Society’s 92nd Annual Meeting in San Diego.

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