Childhood obesity in relation to sweet taste perception and dental caries – a cross-sectional multicenter study
Background: Obesity is a multifactorial disease that is increasing worldwide and is caused by different environmental and genetic factors, with an increase in the consumption of high-energy–containing food and a decrease in physical activity constituting two of the main reasons. Sweet taste perception may have an effect on the subject’s dietary choices and affect his or her predisposition to obesity.
Objectives: The aim was to study the sweet taste perception and dental caries in relation to body mass index (BMI) in 13–15-year-old schoolchildren from three different countries and to compare the BMI among the countries.
Design: The sweet taste perception level, determined as the sweet taste threshold and preference, was assessed in a total of 669 schoolchildren from Italy, Mexico and Saudi Arabia, examined in school settings. Height and weight were collected and BMI was calculated, after which the children were grouped as underweight, normal, overweight, and obese. For caries registration, the International Caries Detection and Assessment System and Decayed Missing Filled Surfaces indices were used.
Results: A statistically significant difference was found for BMI among the children from the three countries (p < 0.001), with the highest mean found among Saudi children, followed by Mexican and Italian children. A statistically significant difference regarding sweet taste threshold when comparing the BMI groups was only found for Saudi Arabia (p < 0.01). No significant correlation was found between BMI and sweet taste threshold or preference and dental caries variables, respectively.
Conclusions: BMI was found to differ between countries, with a further significant difference among the groups among the Saudi Arabia schoolchildren.
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