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Dental caries and body mass index by socio-economic status in Swedish children


Elisabeth Wärnberg Gerdin, Center for Public Health Sciences, County Council of Östergötland, SE-581 85 Linköping, Sweden
Tel: +46 13 22 7228
Fax: +46 13 22 5095


Objectives:  The aim of the present study was to evaluate the association between dental caries, childhood body mass index (BMI), and socioeconomic status in Swedish children.

Methods:  The study cohort consisted of 2303 10-year-old children with data on socioeconomic status, BMI at 4, 5, 7 and 10 years of age, and caries at 6, 10 and 12 years of age. Anthropometric measures were carried out by trained nurses according to standardized routines. The occurrence of caries was registered from county records, and the children were classified into one of five socioeconomic clusters based on their census registration address.

Results:  Caries prevalence decreased with increasing socioeconomic status at all ages, whereas childhood BMI and proportion of overweight/obese children were unrelated to socioeconomic status. Obese, but not overweight, children had more caries affected teeth than non-obese, and BMI had an independent, though weak, effect on caries variation in multiple regression. Interestingly, overweight/obese 4-year-olds, who had normal body weight at 5, 7 and 10 years of age, had significantly less caries than children who had normal body weight from 4 to 10 years of age.

Conclusions:  Overweight and caries prevalence are significantly associated in Swedish children. However, the association is weak. Nevertheless, the concept that child dental services and child welfare services can benefit from joint programs is supported.