A new study has discovered that young people are one-third more likely to eat sugary foods (33%) and significantly more likely to have decaying teeth (39%), if they watch over an hour and a half of television each day.
More than half (53%) of children who watch television for more than 90 minutes a day have some form of tooth decay. Youngsters who eat sugary foods while watching TV are also more than twice as likely to have decaying teeth than those who avoid them.
Dr Nigel Carter OBE, Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation, believes there needs to be a change in the snacking culture around television and says: “There is a clear relationship between the time children spend watching television and how much sugar they are consuming … The results are fillings and tooth extractions – both of which are preventable”.
He continues: “Limiting the amount of television children watch, or where they watch it, could be a sensible and easy measure to improve children’s oral health. It would also have other health benefits to a child’s wellbeing”.
Further findings from the study raise concerns around the impact that advertising sugary foods and drinks has on parents and children. The study shows that nearly three in four (72%) children ask their parents to buy food they see on television, and more than two in three (69%) parents go on to do so: “It is completely irresponsible to expose children to marketing campaigns that promote unhealthy foods and drinks”.