20 May

New survey suggests Brits are snacking more in lockdown

A new survey suggests that British people are snacking more during lockdown. 

Research conducted by the Oral Health Foundation revealed that 38% of adults are snacking more frequently than normal. The statistics for young adults are particularly concerning, with 61% of under-31s admitting to grazing between meals. Over 70% of families also said that they are eating more frequently. This equates to double the figure for child-free households. 

Snacking may increase the risk of weight gain during lockdown, but it also poses serious problems for oral health. When we eat, the bacteria in the mouth release acids, which attack the teeth, increasing the risk of cavities, sensitivity and gum disease. The saliva in the mouth helps to neutralise the acids, but snacking constantly during the day means that the enamel is unable to withstand continued attacks. Eating three square meals is much better for the teeth, as the number of acid attacks is much lower and the enamel has time to recover after eating or drinking. 

Dr Nigel Carter OBE, chief executive of the Oral Health Foundation, explained that grazing has severe consequences for dental health and encouraged people to try and stick to main meals. It is particularly important to avoid eating and drinking acidic and sugary foods between meals. 

Dr Ben Atkins, president of the Oral Health Foundation, also recommended chewing sugar-free gum after eating to simulate saliva production. It usually takes around one hour for the saliva to replace lost minerals from the enamel, and chewing sugar-free gum can help to speed up the process. It is also beneficial to wait for around an hour after eating to brush the teeth. Cleaning the teeth while the enamel is soft can cause damage.

Snacking is often a result of boredom, rather than hunger, according to Dr Carter, and he has urged people to try and keep busy during lockdown and to make sure they follow a healthy diet and stay hydrated to prevent dental issues.