On average Americans eat or drink about 152 pounds of sugar each year.
Members of the Lincoln County Oral Health Coalition hope that by promoting good oral health habits to elementary school students, they will reduce the amount of cavities and lay the groundwork for good health later in life.
That why Coalition members spent Friday, February 28 at Maple Grove School in Hamburg teaching kids how to say no to sugar.
“Sugar Out Day” featured interactive displays and presentations on how much sugar is in some of the students favorite foods. Students also took part in a pledge to eat or drink less sugar with their families.
“We are trying to teach kids at this age the benefits of good oral health habits that they can carry on for the rest of their lives,” said Jane Bentz, and Foundation and Community Outreach Director at Ministry Good Samaritan Health Center and Coalition member.
Educational displays focused on:
Rethink Your Drink: Students saw how much sugar was in sodas, juices, favored milk, and energy drinks. Sugary beverages contain an average of 10 teaspoons of sugar per serving and a good alternative is unflavored milk and or water. Diet sodas, although they have artificial sweetener are not a healthy substitute.
Food Labels: All sugars are listed in grams on the nutrition label. Every 4 grams of sugar on the nutrition label equals 1 teaspoons of sugar. Students were able to calculate how much sugar by dividing the number of grams on the label by 4.
Sugary Snacks: Healthy options like fresh fruits and vegetables were showcased as was the importance of planning ahead by pre-packing snacks to eat healthier.
Artificial Sugars: Students were asked to keep track of how many artificial sweeteners they eat or drank each day and if they were currently having several artificially sweetened drinks and food items a day, they were challenged to have only one.
Tooth decay is the most common disease of childhood as The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that 25% of children aged 6 to11 years and 59% of adolescents aged 12 to19 years have chronic tooth decay. Untreated tooth decay may cause pain and infection that could affect a child’s eating, sleeping, speaking, playing, and learning.
To support the efforts of the Lincoln County Oral Health Coalition, Ministry Good Samaritan Health Center is distributing oral health kits with a toothbrush, toothpaste and dental floss to each 4th grader in the Merrill School District.
Other educational programs were held in the month of February at Kate Goodrich Elementary School, Tomahawk Elementary and Merrill Head Start.
Members of the Lincoln County Oral Health Coalition include Ministry Good Samaritan Health Center, Ministry Sacred Heart Hospital, Lincoln County Health Department, Oak Park Dental, Lincoln County Board of Health, Merrill Head Start, and Bridge Community Dental Clinics. The Coalition’s goals are to increase dental access and increase oral health hygiene practices among Lincoln County’s residents.