Childhood Obesity and Dental Caries in Homeless Children

Published:January 13, 2012DOI:



      Childhood obesity and dental caries are increasing epidemics, especially among children who are living below the poverty level. This study was conducted to determine the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and caries in homeless children.


      A secondary data analysis with a correlational design was used. A convenience sample of 157 children was recruited from a homeless shelter.


      Pearson’s and partial correlations were used to explore the relationships among age, BMI, and caries. Most of the children were girls and were African American. Slightly more than half of the children were overweight (19.7%) or obese (30.6%) and had caries (50.3%). Significant positive correlations between age and BMI (p = .03) as well as between age and caries (p = .003) were found. As BMI increased, so did caries (p = .08).


      Consistent with reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, homeless children had higher BMI and caries rates than the national averages. Although a definitive conclusion between obesity and dental caries cannot be drawn, these two health issues are important areas for all pediatric health care providers to address at every visit.

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      Sheau-Huey Chiu, Assistant Professor, College of Nursing, University of Akron, Akron, OH.


      Marguerite A. DiMarco, Associate Professor, College of Nursing, University of Akron, Akron, OH.


      Jessica L. Prokop, PhD Student and Graduate Assistant, College of Nursing, University of Akron, Akron, OH.