Children who do not eat breakfast every day or not consume at least five servings of fruit and vegetables daily are more likely to develop dental caries. This is according to a study, published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, using data from 4,236 preschoolers who participated in the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The results revealed that non-poor children who have poor eating habits (that is, not eating breakfast daily or not consuming a balanced diet of fruits and vegetables every day) are prone to tooth decay compared with poor children. Lack of breakfast consumption has been associated with high sugar intake and obesity in children. Although breakfasts have been limited to presweetened cereals among many children, eating breakfast was more likely to reduce consumption of sugary snacks or soda, which is what they would likely have when skipping breakfast altogether.
Kids who miss breakfast are more likely to compensate with a snack, and snacks have been found to have the highest sugar content of any type of meal. Breakfasts consisting of whole grains and dairy products have been shown to have an appetite-suppressing effect, while high-sugar diet cause people to feel hungry and seek more carbohydrates.
The authors said that good eating practices such as daily breakfast consumption are an important adjunct to the fluoridation of drinking water to further reduce caries experience in children. “Poverty may be the more important cofactor in indicating caries risk, but healthful eating practices are an important factor in the overall, complex process that leads to caries experience in young children,” concluded the authors. The authors found no relationship between breast-feeding and caries in younger children.