Posted July 3, 2014
Do you have to remind your children to brush their teeth and eat healthy? Health professionals have discovered that young teenage athletes are more apt to eat better and brush their teeth than non-athletes.
Researchers at the Institute of Dentistry at the University of Oulu in Finland studied the dietary and oral health habits of student athletes in comparison to non-athletes in seventh to ninth grades. The participants were divided into two groups:
- Test group – 68 student athletes who attended schools that offered extra physical education programs
- Control group – 1,250 students at schools with no extra physical education
Participants completed a survey with specific questions on dietary choices, such as how often they ate, types of food, and beverages and snacks they consumed. They were also asked to identify toothbrushing habits.
According to the survey responses, student athletes in the test group reported having better dietary and oral health habits than those in the control group. And female athletes reported better habits than males. Here are highlights from the study:
- Regular meals – 90 percent of the student athletes reported eating all regular meals nearly every day
- Vegetables with meals – 45 percent indicated that they ate salad or raw vegetables with meals
- Beverages – While at school, 94 percent of participants from both groups drank milk and 96 percent drank tap water; at home, 86 percent of all participants drank milk and 64 percent chose tap water
- Snack habits – Non-athletes reported consuming more unhealthy snacks than the student-athletes; boys in both groups snacked more than girls
- Toothbrushing habits – 84 percent of the student athletes reported brushing their teeth at least twice daily, compared to 68 percent in the control group; boys in both groups brushed their teeth significantly less often than the girls
To learn more, read all of the study results.