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J Public Health Dent. 2017 Jul 14. doi: 10.1111/jphd.12235. [Epub ahead of print]

Advancing oral health policy and advocacy to prevent childhood obesity and reduce children's consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.

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Community and Oral Health Program, Texas Health Institute, TX, USA.
Health Equity Programs, Texas Health Institute, TX, USA.



While a large body of work documents the interconnections between oral health and obesity, less is known about the role that oral health professionals and organizations play to prevent childhood obesity, especially by influencing children's consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs). This review identifies efforts by oral health professionals and organizations to influence such policy and advocacy, while informing future opportunities to leverage and expand on existing efforts.


A scoping review of peer-reviewed literature and a web-based review of oral health policy and advocacy initiatives addressing prevention of obesity and reducing children's consumption of SSBs were conducted. Of 30 unique references identified, four peer-reviewed and seven non-peer-reviewed references met selection criteria. Qualitative and quantitative data were extracted using a priori determined headings.


Findings suggest a strong role for oral health professionals in preventing childhood obesity and reducing children's consumption of SSBs; however, only a few national, state, and local oral-health-advocacy and -policy efforts were identified, such as policy statements by national associations, state and local education campaigns, and clinical guidelines. Evidence was limited on the role of oral health professionals in influencing broader communitywide advocacy and policy efforts such as soda taxation and limiting SSB consumption in schools.


This review provides an emerging evidence base to support growing recognition among oral health professionals of their dual role in preventing childhood obesity and dental caries by targeting SSB consumption. It also identifies opportunities for oral health professionals to build on initial efforts to more proactively influence future policy and advocacy.


advocacy; obesity; oral health professionals; policy; sugar-sweetened beverages

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