The University of Queensland Children's Nutrition Research Center at the School of Medicine and the School of Dentistry are looking for volunteers aged two, six and ten years for a new study, which aims to establish whether children may be changing their diets to eat unhealthy food because of dental problems and therefore submitting themselves to a higher risk of obesity and chronic disease in later life.
The researchers are particularly interested in recruiting children that were born prematurely, given that research has provided evidence that pre-term children are more likely to experience feeding and dental problems compared with children born at full term. Pre-term children also tend to have a higher risk of chronic diseases, like type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in later life.
Research leader, Sarah Officer explained that a recent study on oral health in Australia demonstrated that 17% of adults do not eat certain foods because of dental problems.
Ms Officer said:
"The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report on oral health and dental care suggests that dental problems do affect diet - but this question has never been addressed in studies of children born pre-term, and never in conjunction with another measure of chronic disease risk such as body composition. We are keen to find out if children with dental problems such as decay and teeth misalignment are choosing foods that are easier to chew, how this modified diet is affecting their body composition, and whether these dietary choices raise their risk of chronic disease. Easy-to-chew foods tend to be highly processed, while healthier choices, such as fresh fruit, grains, lean meat, and vegetables are much harder for children with dental problems to manage. If the study demonstrates that dental problems do lead to poor diet and high body fat in children, this could lead to the development of health screening and prevention programs to protect those children at highest risk."
The Children's Nutrition Research Center wants to recruit children aged two, six and ten years old for the study in order to measure the children's growth, body fat percentage, diet and dental characteristics. Volunteers must live in South East Queensland and be willing to answer some brief questionnaires, as well as traveling to Brisbane for a dental check and body composition testing.
Written By Petra Rattue