Researchers at the Eastman Dental Center, part of the University of Rochester Medical Center, have found in a new study that children who are considered overweight have surprisingly fewer cavities and healthier teeth than their normal weight counterparts.
The findings are based on a secondary analysis of nearly 18,000 kids who participated in two separate National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES III and NHANES 99-02).
The researchers found no differences in rates of caries (tooth decay) among kids ages 2-5 in all weight ranges.
However, children between the age group of 6-18 who were considered overweight and at risk for becoming overweight showed a decreased risk of caries as compared to their normal weight peers.
"We expected to find more oral disease in overweight children of all ages, given the similar causal factors that are generally associated with obesity and caries," said Eastman Dental Center's Dorota Kopycka-Kedzierawski, DDS, MPH, the lead author.
"Our findings raise more questions than answers. For example, are overweight children eating foods higher in fat rather than cavity-causing sugars? Are their diets similar to normal weight peers but lead more sedentary lifestyles? Research to analyse both diet and lifestyle is needed to better understand the results," Kedzierawski added.
The study is published in this month's issue of Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology.