Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption and Caries Prevalence in Underserved Black Adolescents

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Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the association between sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption and dental caries prevalence among underserved Black adolescents. Methods: This was a cross-sectional study of 545 Black adolescents, ages 12 to 17 years, who participated in the Howard Meharry Adolescent Caries Study (HMACS). The outcome was dental caries prevalence, measured using the decayed, missing, and filled permanent tooth surfaces (DMFS) index. Participants were recruited from middle and high schools in Washington, D.C., USA, and Nashville, Tenn., USA. Questionnaires were used to assess beverage intake, demographic, and health-related behavioral characteristics. The multivariable analysis used marginalized zero-inflated Poisson regression (MZIP) stratified by toothbrushing frequency to estimate adjusted mean caries ratios (MRs), adjusted odds ratios (ORs), and 95 percent confidence intervals (95 percent CIs). Results: The mean age of the participants was 14.1 years. Participants in the highest quartile for SSB consumption had a higher caries ratio than those in the lowest quartile [MR equals (=) 1.59, 95 percent CI equals 1.15 to 2.20] and a lower odds of not being at risk for caries (OR = 0.24, 95 percent CI = 0.09 to 0.61). These findings were only observed among those brushing once a day or less (n =202). Conclusions: Among Black adolescents in this study who brushed once a day or less, high levels of sugar-sweetened beverage consumption were associated with greater caries prevalence and a reduced likelihood of remaining caries-free than those with lower levels of SSB consumption. Future studies will focus on interventions to reduce SSB consumption.

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