Obesity could lead to gum risk, US researchers say.
Scientists with the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Puerto Rico, found significant associations between all measures of obesity and periodontal disease - even after accounting for age, smoking, race, dental profession, physical activity, fruit and vegetable intake, and diabetes status at baseline.
They analyzed data from 36,903 men from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study who were free of reported periodontal disease at the start of follow-up, and followed them for up to 16 years (1986-2002).
Height was assessed at the start of follow-up, and weight and self-reported periodontal disease data were collected at baseline and on follow-up questionnaires mailed every two years.
Measures of central obesity were made by waist and hip circumference through self-assessed measurements and reported in 1987 with the aid of printed instructions and a tape measure.
Self-reported periodontal disease and adiposity measures had been previously validated.
They evaluated the effect of body mass index (BMI kg/m2), waist circumference (WC), and waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), on first report of periodontal disease diagnosis.
Obesity (BMI - 30 kg/m2) at the beginning of follow-up and over follow-up was significantly associated with a 25 percent and 29 percent increased risk compared with normal weight (BMI 18.5-24.9 kg/m2), respectively.
The same went for waist circumference and waist-to-hip indices.
When BMI was accounted for (i.e., overall obesity), the effects of WC and WHR (i.e., central obesity) were weakened. The associations of BMI and WC were significant even among non-diabetics and among those who had never smoked.
These results provide the first evidence following a large group of people over time with clear evidence of obesity occurring prior to periodontal disease, and support an association between obesity and risk of periodontal disease.
Given the high prevalence of obesity and periodontal disease, this association may be of substantial public health importance, according to researchers.