Introduction: Childhood obesity and dental caries (DC) have increased worldwide and are continuing to pose challenges to public health. The increasing risk of obesity for children is of particular concern because research has suggested that childhood obesity predicts adult obesity. Children experiencing DC early in their lives have a much greater probability of subsequent caries in their permanent dentitions and adulthood. Studies have reported a strong association between the nutritional intake and DC and reported a direct link between DC, sugar consumption and obesity. Objectives: to assess the association between dental caries (DC), the Body Mass Index (BMI) and diet among grade six learners at selected primary schools in Tshwane West District. Methods: A cross-sectional analytical study of grade six learners was carried out in Tshwane. The data collection consisted of a questionnaire, clinical oral examination and anthropometric measurements. All clinical data was collected by a single calibrated examiner. A validated questionnaire was used to collect the demographic data and the type of diet consumed. The SPSS version 23 software was used for analysis. Descriptive statistics, Chi-Square test to test for significance for categorical data and logistic regression analysis were used to determine statistical significance. Results: The response rate was 83% (440) and of these 53% were male. The mean age of the participants was 11.8yrs. The majority of the participant’s fathers (71%) and 50% of mothers were employed. The DC prevalence was 43% with a mean DMFT score of 1.19 (SD= ±1.79). The PUFA score was zero. Less than half (47%) of the participants reported to brush their teeth twice daily. The majority (71%) claimed to drink between one and one and a half glasses of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) with 67% eating between one and three sweets per day. While most of the participants reported having a balanced meal at supper, a third reported eating junk food. The majority (71%) of participants had a BMI score that was within the normal range with 19% being overweight. There were no significant associations between the mean DMFT, BMI scores and the SES of the participants. Conclusion: The DMFT was low, but the decayed component was relatively high. The PUFA score was zero. Most participants were classified as having a “normal” BMI with almost a quarter being classified “overweight”. There were no significant associations between the DMFT and the mean BMI scores and SES of the learners. More than half of the participants were from a medium SES and had a slightly high DMFT score than their counterparts. Less than half reported to brush their teeth daily, most of them had a balanced diet at supper.
Dissertation (MChD)--University of Pretoria, 2018.