Swedish researchers claim dentists are secret weapons in the fight against obesity

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Researchers in Sweden claim that dentists are potentially powerful secret weapons in the battle against obesity.

Researchers from the Sahlgrenska Academy, which is based at the Swedish Institute of Medicine, have suggested that encouraging people to adopt tooth-friendly diets could make a positive difference to their waistlines. Many of the foods that contribute to weight gain are also harmful for dental health, and the team claims that dentists are an ideal position to try promote healthy eating.

Scientists believe that diets high in sugar and junk food are linked to both dental disease and obesity. Louise Arvidsson, lead author of the study, said that children who have poor oral health are also more likely to be obese and suggested that improving dental health could also aid weight loss. Ms Arvidsson, a dietitian, said that children may respond more favourably to encouragement to improve their oral health than changes to the amount they eat, for example, and claimed that targeting improved oral health represented a “different angle” to tackle the sensitive issue of obesity.

During the study, the team analysed data from 271 Swedish children, looking at their BMI, their eating habits and their dental health. The children’s BMI and their daily food intake were compared to their oral health and researchers found a correlation between being overweight and having poor dental health and eating habits. Children with higher numbers of cavities and elevated bacteria levels were found to eat more frequently throughout the day and consume more sugar.

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