Have you ever wondered how obesity plays a role in your child’s overall wellbeing and what behavior changes they can adopt to promote a more healthy lifestyle? Obesity is oftentimes related to other health-related issues, such as heart disease and diabetes, and can even affect one’s oral health. There are several ways to prevent obesity that are safe, effective, and that will inherently help improve other aspects of your child’s health as well.
When learning how to prevent obesity, the first step is to discern the difference between obesity and overweight. A child is considered obese when their body mass index (BMI) is at or above the 95th percentile for other children of the same age and sex. And unfortunately, as noted by the American Heart Association, obesity in children is a growing problem. According to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity in children aged 6 to 11 years old increased from 6.5% in 1980 to 18.4% in 2016, while obesity in adolescents aged 12 to 19 years old increased from 5% to 20.6% over that same period.
The CDC has also reported that, as obesity has become more common among children and adolescents, incidents of tooth decay have also risen, thus suggesting a link between dental health and weight. While we can't make a simple claim that a singular health condition like obesity causes tooth decay or periodontal disease, research compiled by the International Journal of Dentistry confirms they similar risk factors.
Medications for high blood pressure, often taken by people who struggle with obesity, have some side effects that can negatively affect their oral health. According to the ADA, the most common side effects of these medications are dry mouth and overgrowth of the gums (gingival hyperplasia), causing plaque to get trapped beneath. Both side effects can lead to periodontal disease and cavities.