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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Oral health and obesity indicators

Anna-Lena Östberg12*, Calle Bengtsson3, Lauren Lissner4 and Magnus Hakeberg12

Author Affiliations

1 Dept of Behavioral and Community Dentistry, Institute of Odontology, The Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Göteborg, Sweden

2 Research Center, Public Dental Service, Region Västra Götaland, Göteborg, Sweden

3 Dept of Public Health and Community Medicine/Primary Health Care, The Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Göteborg, Sweden

4 Dept of Public Health and Community Medicine/Public Health Epidemiology, The Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Göteborg, Sweden

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BMC Oral Health 2012, 12:50  doi:10.1186/1472-6831-12-50

Published: 20 November 2012



In western Sweden, the aim was to study the associations between oral health variables and total and central adiposity, respectively, and to investigate the influence of socio-economic factors (SES), lifestyle, dental anxiety and co-morbidity.


The subjects constituted a randomised sample from the 1992 data collection in the Prospective Population Study of Women in Gothenburg, Sweden (n = 999, 38- > =78 yrs). The study comprised a clinical and radiographic examination, together with a self-administered questionnaire. Obesity was defined as body mass index (BMI) > =30 kg/m2, waist-hip ratio (WHR) > =0.80, and waist circumference >0.88 m. Associations were estimated using logistic regression including adjustments for possible confounders.


The mean BMI value was 25.96 kg/m2, the mean WHR 0.83, and the mean waist circumference 0.83 m. The number of teeth, the number of restored teeth, xerostomia, dental visiting habits and self-perceived health were associated with both total and central adiposity, independent of age and SES. For instance, there were statistically significant associations between a small number of teeth (<20) and obesity: BMI (OR 1.95; 95% CI 1.40-2.73), WHR (1.67; 1.28-2.19) and waist circumference (1.94; 1.47-2.55), respectively. The number of carious lesions and masticatory function showed no associations with obesity. The obesity measure was of significance, particularly with regard to behaviour, such as irregular dental visits, with a greater risk associated with BMI (1.83; 1.23-2.71) and waist circumference (1.96; 1.39-2.75), but not with WHR (1.29; 0.90-1.85).


Associations were found between oral health and obesity. The choice of obesity measure in oral health studies should be carefully considered.

Body mass index; Waist-to-hip ratio; Waist circumference; Number of teeth; Health behaviour