Coordinated offensive on obesity and decay

obesityA coordinated offensive to tackle both obesity and dental decay in children and young people has been recommended by the British Society of Paediatric Dentistry (BSPD).

A new position statement from the BSPD highlights the diet and lifestyle factors common to the two conditions, which are both alarmingly prevalent among under-16s.

The most recent (2013/14) National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) showed that 33% of 11-year-olds were overweight or obese.

Research shows that obese young people are more likely to have decay in their permanent teeth.

Claire Stevens, spokeswoman for the BSPD, said that obesity and dental decay were both preventable health issues linked to the consumption of food and drinks that are high in sugar and low in nutritional value.

She said: ‘Poor nutrition poses a clear health risk to children and young people.

‘We support all calls for clearer food labelling and our members wish to be part of a coordinated approach to raising awareness of the damaging impact of foods and drinks that are high in sugar or fat, or both, and low in vitamins.’

Health risks of obesity include:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Asthma.

Obesity can also affect a child’s selfesteem, emotional and mental health, and may lead to depression.

Claire, a consultant in paediatric dentistry, said: ‘The combination of physiological and psychological factors make obesity a significant concern for everyone working in the field of health.’

She carries out many operations annually to remove decayed teeth in children – sometimes as young as three.

When a child is obese, there are greater risks in the procedure requiring an initial assessment to determine how to proceed and a longer stay in hospital.

‘Obesity is accompanied by associated health risks and psychological problems that affect many aspects of an individual’s life.

‘In the big picture, obesity costs the NHS £5 billion each year with 40,000 people dying of conditions attributable to being overweight or obese.’

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