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J Paediatr Child Health. 2017 May;53(5):494-499. doi: 10.1111/jpc.13449. Epub 2017 Jan 10.

Low sugar nutrition policies and dental caries: A study of primary schools in South Auckland.

Author information

Health Intelligence, Auckland Regional Public Health Service, Auckland, New Zealand.
Section of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.
Paediatric Services, Oral Health Department, Greenlane Clinical Centre, Auckland District Health Board, Auckland, New Zealand.
Millenium Institute, Human Potential Centre, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand.



The study assessed whether a healthy food policy implemented in one school, Yendarra Primary, situated in a socio-economically deprived area of South Auckland, had improved student oral health by comparing dental caries levels with students of similar schools in the same region with no such policy.


Records of caries of the primary and adult teeth were obtained between 2007 and 2014 for children attending Yendarra, and were compared to those of eight other public schools in the area, with a similar demographic profile. Children were selected between the ages of 8 and 11 years. Linear regression models were used to estimate the strength of association between attending Yendarra school and dental caries.


During the study period, 3813 records were obtained of children who attended dental examinations and the schools of interest. In a linear model, mean number of carious primary and adult teeth were 0.37 lower (95% confidence interval: 0.09-0.65) in Yendarra school children, compared to those in other schools, after adjustment for confounders. Pacific students had higher numbers of carious teeth (adjusted β coefficient: 0.25; 95% confidence interval: 0.03-0.46) than Māori.


This nutrition policy, implemented in a school in the poorest region of South Auckland, which restricted sugary food and drink availability, was associated with a marked positive effect on the oral health of students, compared to students in surrounding schools. We recommend that such policies are a useful means of improving child oral health.


education; epidemiology; nutrition; statistics

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