Sweets and children go together like birds of a feather, especially when it comes to candies, which can be both esthetically appealing and tasty enough to satisfy their sweet-tooth desires. Such qualities mean adults often buy candy-based gifts for their children, whether it’s because they want to see them happy, to show them love, or as a form of behavior management to stop the child from complaining and acting up. However, giving children these colorful sweet treats could actually be placing them at risk of obesity, tooth decay and many other health disorders that you may have been previously unaware of.
It is almost impossible to separate children from this treat, so pay attention to the following details when choosing which candy to buy:
Study the nutritional advice and ingredients before buying candies, comparing sugar levels of various products and choosing one which contains less than 12 grams. Additionally, products with the most natural ingredients are preferable, for instance, naturally occurring food colorings or those which utilize herbs to increase sweetness.
Choose candy made from natural ingredients, such as coconut sugar, milk, bananas or fruits instead of candies made from artificially produced food stuffs.
There are a variety of hard candies or lollipops that people enjoy in between meals, often sucking on them multiple times a day. Such habits can be extremely damaging to the teeth due to the frequency of exposure to the high sugar levels that leads the microbes found in saliva to produce acids, which results in increased levels of tooth decay.
Overly sticky or chewy candies can get stuck in the mouth especially the small gaps in our teeth, which can be difficult to reach when brushing, meaning an increased risk of dental issues.
Although you may already be selecting low-sugar candies or those made from natural ingredients, they are still usually sweet. Therefore, candies of any type should be consumed in limitations, for example, eating only one or two pieces a day, consuming them only on special occasions or offering them as a reward for outstanding achievement.
Candies should not be eaten before meals as it could lead to the child feeling full. Candies should also not be eaten when playing or sitting in the car as children are prone to falls or jolts at these times, which could lead to an extremely dangerous choking situation.
Children should be taught to brush their teeth every time they finish eating candies or sweets as this will reduce the amount of sugar accumulating in between their teeth that may otherwise result in tooth decay.
Statistics from surveys carried out about Thais’ oral health shows that up to 70% of both children and adults suffer from tooth decay, which is a major cause of tooth loss. Moreover, tooth decay is already on the rise due to changing dietary habits, especially those associated with increased consumption of snacks, which is being sold in greater quantities than ever. Candies pose a distinct risk due to the high sugar content that leads to the growth in microbes which transform into chemicals that are harmful to teeth once they have processed the sugar found in candies and other sweet products.
In addition to increasing the risk of tooth decay, frequent over consumption of sugar can also result in childhood obesity, especially in those children who are not as active as some of their peers.
Studies carried out by the medical industry have found that over consumption of sugar, particularly before meals, causes blood glucose levels to rise temporarily, resulting in the child feeling full and not eating properly thereafter. Tooth decay can also play its part in this regard as decreased tooth function ultimately makes it harder for the child to chew their food properly.
Parents and guardians who take care when selecting snacks will help their children get the proper nutrients to ensure healthy development, free from the problems associated with tooth decay.
M.D., Faculty of Medicine Ramathibodi Hospital, Mahidol University, 2002