Research shows lockdown has led to an increase in snacking across the UK, sparking worries about its potential impact.
A new study reveals 38% of UK adults are snacking more since the national lockdown was announced at the end of March.
And seven in 10 families (70%) with children under the age of five are reporting more snacking in the household. This is more than double when compared to those who do not live with children.
Additionally, 61% of under 35s admit they are eating more in between meals.
These statistics have been revealed as the nation kickstarts National Smile Month today (18 May), a campaign that raises awareness about the importance of good oral health.
The research, carried out by the Oral Health Foundation, prompted the charity to warn of its effects on the nation’s health.
‘As a nation we have slowly moved away from three square meals and have adopted more snacking habits,’ said Dr Nigel Carter OBE, chief executive of the charity.
‘This has worsened during lockdown, as sudden changes to work and family life might have led more people to snack more.
‘Snacking could be the result of boredom or the need to find a distraction that gives us short-term comfort. The problem is that snacking can have serious repercussions for our health.’
Dr Ben Atkins, president of the Oral Health Foundation, calls on the nation to make use of sugar-free chewing gum.
‘It is important we are mindful of the harm snacking can do for our health and take actions to prevent any potential damage,’ he said.
‘By helping us make more saliva, chewing sugar-free gum can help reduce acid attacks in the mouth.’
This comes as a series of new videos have been released in response to COVID-19 to encourage youngsters to keep their teeth healthy.
Dr Ranj – NHS doctor, TV presenter and author – heads up three new mini videos that give preventative advice to help avoid oral health complications.
Created by the British Society of Paediatric Dentistry (BSPD), the animations highlight the best way for children to dodge dental decay.
‘As a children’s dentist, I know that the main culprit is frequent consumption of sugary foods and drinks, especially between meals,’ said Claire Stevens, a spokesperson for the BSPD.
‘We also know it can be a challenge to teach children to brush their teeth when they are young and encourage them to keep brushing as they get older.’
Statistics show nearly 60,000 children are admitted to hospital to have teeth extracted under general anaesthetic every year.
Dr Ranj – who also appeared as a celebrity contestant on Strictly Come Dancing – stars alongside Emmerdale star Gemma Oaten, who voices his sidekick, SuperTooth.
The Oral Health Foundation recommends the videos to clamp down on the symptoms of lockdown snacking. Dr Carter added: ‘It’s not surprising that parents and carers are facing challenges as children miss the structure of the school day as well as school meals.
‘But it’s never been more important to look after your teeth. We are recommending that families view BSPD’s videos starring Dr Ranj, which give the best practice advice in a fun way in the shortest possible time.’
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