Could dentists play a role in reducing obesity post Covid-19?
Obesity has been a problem in the UK for many years, but there’s no doubt that the Coronavirus crisis has put the issue firmly on the agenda again.
Statistics suggest that people who are obese are disproportionately affected by Covid-19 and that those who have a high BMI are less likely to respond to hospital treatment. The Prime Minister has already suggested that more will be done to conquer obesity in the UK after the crisis, and health professionals across the board can play a role.
Dentists, unlike doctors and nurses, have the privilege of seeing patients on a frequent basis. Most people don’t go to their GP unless they’re feeling unwell or they have concerns about their health, while regular routine check-ups are commonplace for dental patients. Dentists believe that they can help to play a part in improving lifestyle choices and providing support for patients who are keen to reduce their chances of developing conditions related to being overweight.
Research shows that a quarter of British people who died from Covid-19 also had diabetes. Obesity is a major risk factor in 85% of cases of type 2 diabetes. Dentists are already keen to provide advice and support for those who have diabetes, as this condition poses a risk of dental health issues. Moving forward, with the knowledge that Covid-19 puts overweight and obese people at risk, the dental profession is looking at ways in which it can work with doctors, public health experts and community health workers to reduce rates of obesity. Around 30% of the UK population is obese.
One of the most important ways dentists can help to encourage healthier lifestyles is stressing the benefits of making positive choices in terms of diet and sugar consumption. Most cases of childhood decay and dental disease in adults are linked to a poor diet. Urging patients to change their eating habits, reduce sugar intake and look after their teeth and gums could be incredibly influential in bringing down rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes in the future.