Fruit and vegetable consumption among older adults by tooth loss and socio-economic status


Dr David BrennanAustralian Research Centre for Population Oral Health
School of Dentistry
The University of Adelaide
Adelaide SA 5005


Background:  The aim of this study was to examine consumption of fruit and vegetables in relation to tooth loss and income.

Methods:  Data were collected in 2004–06, using a three-stage, stratified clustered sample, involving a computer-assisted telephone interview (CATI), oral examination and mailed questionnaire followed by a food frequency questionnaire.

Results:  A total of 14 123 adults responded to the CATI (49% response) of whom 5505 (44% of those interviewed) agreed to undergo an oral epidemiological examination. In the nutrition sub-study, a total of n = 1218 persons were approached in New South Wales and Queensland, with n = 1129 responding (92.7% response rate). Among respondents aged 55 years or more 34.5% had <21 teeth. Adjusting for income the prevalence of infrequent consumption (‘never or less than once a month’) was associated with [PR = prevalence ratio (95% CI)] fewer teeth for the fruits, ‘peach, nectarine, plum, apricot’ PR = 1.91 (1.12, 3.25) and ‘grapes or berries’ PR = 1.69 (1.03, 2.76), and for the vegetables ‘stir-fried or mixed’ PR = 2.34 (1.14, 4.78), ‘sweetcorn’ PR = 1.45 (1.001, 2.10), ‘mushrooms’ PR = 1.62 (1.05, 2.50), ‘lettuce’ PR = 3.99 (1.31, 12.17) and ‘soy beans’ PR = 1.11 (1.01, 1.21).

Conclusions:  An inadequate dentition was associated with lower consumption of a range of fruits and vegetables indicating that dentition-related impairment of chewing ability could have adverse consequences on nutritional intake among Australian adults.