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J Public Health Dent. 2008 Fall;68(4):227-33. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-7325.2008.00083.x.

Obesity and dental caries in children aged 2-6 years in the United States: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999-2002.

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Department of Dental Public Health and Behavioral Science, School of Dentistry, University of Missouri-Kansas City, Kansas City, MO 64108, USA.



This study assessed the associations between obesity and dental caries in young children participating in a national survey.


Participants included 1507 children aged 2-6 years who received dental examinations and had at least 10 primary teeth in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999-2002. Decayed/filled teeth (dft) counts of primary dentition were obtained, and weight and height were measured. Body mass index (BMI; kg/m2) was calculated, and participants were categorized using age- and gender-specific criteria as underweight (<5th percent), normal (5th-85th percent), at risk for overweight (>85th and <95th percent), and overweight (> or =95th percent). With appropriate sample weighting, relationships between dft and BMI were assessed using the Kruskal-Wallis test and multivariable logistic regression.


Seventy-four percent of children were classified as normal weight, 11 percent as at risk for overweight, and 11 percent as overweight; 58 percent did not have caries; 30 percent had 1-5 dft and 12 percent had >5 dft. When caries experience was compared across BMI categories stratified by age and race characteristics, statistically significant association between caries and obesity was found only for 60- <72-month age group. In the comparison between children with normal and at-risk BMI only, significant associations were also found in the Hispanic and non-Hispanic Black strata. In multivariable logistic regression models to predict caries experience, family income and age were statistically significant predictors for severe early childhood caries only.


There appears to be no significant association between childhood obesity and caries experience after controlling forage, race, and poverty/income ratio. However, further studies are needed to better understand this relationship.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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