AIMS AND OBJECTIVES : This study assessed the knowledge, attitude and
consumption of sugar‑sweetened beverages (SSBs) and its association with body
mass index (BMI) among undergraduate oral health students.
MATERIALS AND METHODS : A cross‑sectional design was used and the study
was conducted at a South African dental university. Undergraduate dental and
oral hygiene students (n = 344) registered in 2015 were invited to participate.
A self‑administered questionnaire was used to elicit the necessary information.
Data analysis included frequencies and correlations using Chi‑square tests.
Statistical significance was set at P < 0.05.
RESULTS : The response rate was 88% (301) and the mean age was 22.3 years
(range: 17–42; standard deviation ±3.2). The majority were female (72%) and
70% of respondents had an acceptable level of knowledge on the types of SSBs
and possible health conditions if consumed excessively. Almost half (46%) had
a positive attitude toward the consumption of SSBs. Clinical students had a
significantly higher level of knowledge compared to nonclinical students (P = 0.03).
Participants consumed an average of six teaspoons (±9.5) of sugar from SSBs
daily. Those with poor knowledge and attitude consumed significantly more
SSBs (P < 0.01) than those with higher levels of knowledge and attitude. Males
were significantly more obese and overweight than females (P < 0.01). There was
no association between the amount of sugar consumed from SSBs and the BMI.
CONCLUYSIONS : The knowledge and attitude toward SSBs was acceptable. Although
sugar consumption from SSBs was relatively high, there was no significant
correlation between the consumption of SSBs and the BMI.