The Correlation Between the Level of Knowledge in Reading Nutritional Labels and Oral Health
Cuschieri Laura, Maria Roxana Visan, Anne-Marie Agius, Gabriella Gatt, Nikolai Attard
Cuschieri Laura (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Oral health, Nutrition, Public health, DMFT, Mobile Dental Unit, Nutritional labels
Abstract and Objectives: To establish whether the level of knowledge in reading nutritional labels in the Maltese population is correlated to their oral health status.
Materials and Methods: Participants were recruited from dental screenings on the Mobile Dental Unit (MDU) or at the University of Malta dental teaching clinics. A questionnaire was used to collect general information, participants’ awareness of WHO sugar guidelines, food preferences, and their level of knowledge in reading nutrition labels. The decayed, missing, and filled teeth (DMFT) Index and erosion scores were also recorded.
Results: A total of 122 random subjects participated in this research project, of which 62.3% were females. 17.2% of the total sample were aware of the WHO guidelines regarding sugar intake. 41.7% of people showed a good level of knowledge in reading nutrition labels. Mean DMFT scores and care index were found to be 10.5 ± 7.2 and 37.2 ± 30.3% respectively. Furthermore, the BEWE index was found to be 1.2 ± 3.3%. Higher educational levels were associated with healthier diets. Within the 35-65 years group, DMFT was significantly lower if the respondent had the ability to read labels.
Conclusion: The study showed that there is a low awareness of WHO daily sugar intake guidelines and a moderate understanding of nutrition labels. Age-related trends, educational background, and knowledge in reading and correctly understanding food nutritional labels were related to better oral health.