Nutrition Counseling for Obesity Prevention in Children: A Handbook for the Dental Community

Obesity and dental caries are prevalent  chronic childhood diseases. These diseases are multifactorial in nature and share common nutritional risk factors. Because there are many behavioral factors that affect both oral health and child weight status, dental professionals are well-positioned to comprehensively evaluate children's dietary and nutritional behaviors, assess risk and provide appropriate counseling to children and families to prevent obesity and dental caries. 

Many national dental associations have recognized the importance of patients' diet and nutritional behaviors on oral health. The American Dental Association acknowledges that eating patterns and food choices play a major role in maintating good oral health. The American Dental Hygienists Association stresses the importance of evaluating patients' nutritional history and dietary practices. The Amercan Academy of Pediatric Dentistry indicates that diteray and nutritional counseling should be provided regularly by pediatric dentists and other health care providers who treat children. Therefore dental professionals should be trained in the tenets of healthy nutrition and dietary counseling and bring these strategies into the dental office to not only promote optimal oral health but also to prevent obesity. 

In 2017, the Health Services Resources Administration of the Department of Health and Human Services funded the "Pediatric Patient Care, Population Health, and Community Based Training (PPCT) Project" proposed by the Temple University Maurice H. Kornberg School of Dentistry. Dr. Vinodh Bhoopathi, the project director, collobarated with the Center for Obesity Research and Education, Temple University College of Public Health, to develop a "Nutrition Counseling and Obesity Prevention Handbook". This handbook has been developed primarily to serve as an evidence-based resource for interested dental schools and dental hygiene programs to increase the knowledge and skills of students in childhood obesity prevention, healthy nutrition, and dietary counseling. Pediatric dental residency and orthodontic dental residency programs may integrate the contents of the handbook into their curriculum to train residents and fellows. 

This handbook is a useful resource for practicing dental professionals, oral health-related organizations, community health centers with dental clinics, and other academic programs interested in playing a role in childhood obesity prevention and comprehensive efforts to raise healthy, smiling children.  

The handbook is available free of cost. Please complete the following and click submit to download the handbook. Thank you!