One survey was done from 1988 to 1994, the other from 1999 to 2002. The
first survey had 10,180 participants; the second survey had 7,568
When looking at the results, researchers were surprised to find that
overweight children did not have more cavities than kids of normal weight; in
the earlier survey, overweight children had slightly less chance of tooth decay
compared to normal-weight children.
Here are the findings from the research:
2- to 5-year-olds:
No difference in tooth decay was found in the baby teeth among these
children in all weight ranges.
6- to 11-year-olds:
Children in the earlier survey group who were considered overweight or at
risk of being overweight were less likely to have cavities in their baby teeth
when compared to their normal-weight peers. Overweight children were less
likely to have cavities in their permanent teeth.
In the later survey group, there was no difference in likelihood of
cavities in any weight range for primary or permanent teeth.
12- to 18-year-olds:
In the earlier survey, overweight children were less likely to have
cavities in permanent teeth than normal-weight children.
In the later survey, there was no difference in the likelihood of having
cavities among kids who were overweight, at risk for overweight, and normal
Being poor and having a head of household with a low level of education were
factors that contributed to having more tooth decay across all age groups and
"We expected to find more oral disease in overweight children of all
ages, given their similar causal factors that are generally associated with
obesity and caries (cavities)," researcher Dorota Kopycka-Kedzierawski says
in a news release.
So do overweight older kids have fewer cavities? Researchers aren't sure.
They admit that their findings are "inconclusive."
Kopycka-Kedzierawski calls for more research, saying the findings "raise
more questions than answers. Are overweight children eating foods higher in fat
rather than cavity-causing sugars?"
The study is published in the April issue of Community Dentistry &