Study shows young children eating fast-food on weekly basis
As dentists at Scripps Pediatric Dentistry, we know that kids who eat well and brush and floss daily have better chances of keeping their teeth healthy for life. But as we know, kids are surrounded by plenty of unhealthy choices when it comes to food. In fact, a UCLA study from last year showed two-thirds of kids in California between the ages 2 and 5 eat fast-food at least once a week.The study, conducted by the university’s Center for Health Policy Research, collected information from the California Health Interview Survey from 2007 and 2009 and found 60 percent of children eat fast food at least once a week, while one in 10 eats three fast-food meals per week. The study showed kids from low-income families, communities of color and Latino children (half of all children under age 5 in California are Latino) eat fast-food even more often — about 70 percent have it least once a week.
While many parents likely know that kids who eat fruits and vegetables tend to have better health and stronger teeth, the study showed Asian children eat fewer fruits and veggies than kids in other ethnic groups. One way parents can help boost their kids’ intake is by feeding them fruit instead of fruit juice. Because fruit juice is high in sugars, kids who drink it from a bottle all day or are allowed to fall asleep nursing a bottle of juice can suffer from tooth decay. The study showed the more fast-food young kids eat, the more likely they are to drink soda. The good news is that soda consumption among kids has dropped in recent years – possibly because the state banned the drinks from schools in 2003 – reducing the number of hours per day that kids have access to the sugary drinks. This is encouraging, considering that kids who drink a lot of soda may also experience tooth decay because of the amount of sugar in the drinks. Researchers who led the study said they centered their research on kids between ages 2 and 5 because the diets that children have in this age range establishes a pattern for they eat as they get older.
In addition to using this time to teach your kids good eating habits, we also encourage parents to start good dental habits for their little ones to avoid cavities and tooth decay. Make sure to take your child for their first dental visit by their first birthday and to keep up with dental visits twice each year. Call our office if you need an appointment or advice for your child. We are here to help you give your kids good dental habits and health that will last for life!