Obesity, dental cavities, and other health problems - thanks to unhealthy food (especially junk food) and eating habits - are some of the most blatantly visible yet most neglected public health concerns of today.

A tough time for dentists

Health professionals like me often feel helpless when we see parents bribing their toddlers, with junk food. Most often, such items are proven to be extremely harmful to them.

Honestly, in my experience working, I find it is easier to change a child’s habits rather than their parents’ (who would do anything to make the child stop crying).

Lifestyle has an impact

The changes in the present day lifestyle have brought about drastic changes in parenting techniques. This is due to the fact that families are becoming smaller and both the mother and father are working 8 hours-a-day or more. The parents are, hence, guilty for not being able to spend sufficient time with their child or children. Hence, they are compelled to fulfil all his or her wishes, reasonable or not.

I have often heard parents saying, “Son, you must have the filling done today. If you do so, I will get you a big bar of chocolate”. The irony is that the chocolate could have been the primary cause for the dental cavity. Instead of encouraging the child to eat healthily, the parent has unknowingly given more reasons for the child to have more dental cavities.A similar scenario is partly responsible for little babies getting obese, as they grow older, these days. Burgers, patties, noodles, cola drinks are instant snacks for the child and are readily available. Unfortunately, junk food is pleasant on the tongue, hence kids like them more than the nutritious home-cooked food items.

  • Junk food should not be used as a bribe, instead use it occasionally as a reward
  • Children follow their leaders. In this case, their parents are their leaders. So, exercise caution.
  • Learn to say “NO” to your child. Tantrums should not be encouraged
  • Encourage – cereals, pulses, fruits, brushing twice a day and outdoor sports
  • Discourage – burgers, pizzas, biscuits, cold, chocolates, fried food, video games

(This article has been written with inputs from Dr. Deepesh Prajapathi, Asst. Professor & Pediatric Dentist, NIMS Dental College & Hospital, Jaipur)