Students who are overweight are risking losing their teeth caused by a fatty diet and not eating fresh vegetables regularly.
The study, undertaken in Japan, looked at the oral health and eating habits of more than 800 University undergraduates, and compared the levels of gum disease between students who were classed as underweight, normal weight and overweight.
The study found that students, classed as overweight, that regularly ate fatty foods and rarely ate vegetables, were at an increased risk of severe gum disease likely to result in tooth loss. Students classed as underweight or normal weight were not exposed to the same risk.
The study also suggested that young people who were overweight, but frequently ate vegetables were less likely to suffer from severe gum disease.
The findings are food for thought for around 450,000 students who start University in the UK each year.
Current estimates suggest that over one in four young people aged 16-24 are classed as overweight in the UK, and potentially at greater risk of gum disease and tooth loss.
Chief Executive of the Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter, said: ‘Starting university is an exciting time for every student, but perhaps not for their oral health.
‘One of the key ingredients to good oral health is a balanced diet, something I’m sure many people who have gone through university will admit to foregoing.
‘However, having takeaway food, alcohol and ready meals too often are really bad for oral health. It may be a quick, easy and simple way to eat, but you are running the risk of health problems later in life if you consume these types of food too often.’
The perceived myth about the higher cost of healthy eating is one the Foundation believes must be overcome in order for good habits to become the norm, and Dr Carter believes there’s a perfect opportunity around the corner to do just that.
‘National Smile Month is an ideal opportunity for colleges and universities to urge students to think about what they’ve eaten throughout the semester and how they can put it right not just during the campaign, but ensure that a good, balanced diet remains part of their lifestyle.
‘Whether it’s a healthy canteen on campus grounds or an initiative from one of the many dental schools, promoting a better diet to combat weight problems and improve oral health can make a difference.’
National Smile Month, which runs from 20 May to 20 June 2012 is the UK’s biggest annual reminder to look after their oral health. The campaign encourages everyone to brush their teeth for two minutes twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, cut down on how often they have sugary foods and drinks and to visit their dentist regularly, as often as they recommend.