Obesity and Dental Caries in Children in Plymouth
MetadataShow full item record
Background: Obesity and dental caries are two of the most common conditions affecting children and both have significant implications on children’s wellbeing and future health. Even though research into the relationship between the two conditions has been conducted for many years, results to date remain equivocal. Furthermore, the majority of the studies only examined individual-level determinants of the two conditions. Aim: The current work aimed to examine the nature, direction and effect size of the relationship between obesity and caries in children in Plymouth, United Kingdom. It also aimed to better understand the individual and the broader environmental determinants of the two conditions. Methods: The study was divided into three parts: a systematic review examining the relationship between the two conditions in children and adolescents using a validated and study design specific tool; an analysis of extant data concerning Plymouth children’s weight status and dental caries using a spatial approach; and lastly a school survey of local children aged four to six years, where different types of obesity were examined in relation to dental caries. In the latter survey, several neighbourhood-level and individual characteristics were also examined in relation to the two conditions. Results: The systematic review indicated that there was no consistent association between high Body Mass Index and caries in individuals less than 18 years old. The ecological study identified spatial clusters of obesity and caries in Plymouth children and the results supported the importance of developing geographically focused prevention and intervention strategies which take into account the presence of spatial heterogeneity. The school survey did not find evidence of a relationship between any type of obesity and caries in Plymouth children but identified several indicators that affect the distribution of the two conditions. Conclusions: This work has given insight into the nature, direction and size of the relationship between obesity and caries in Plymouth children and has highlighted several indicators which need to be considered when developing local public health interventions.