Healthy Eating Index Is a Predictor of Early Childhood Caries

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


  • ME Nunn
  • NS Braunstein
  • EA Krall Kaye
  • RI Garcia
  • MM Henshaw

Colleges, School and Institutes


Early childhood caries (ECC) is a preventable form of dental caries that affects very young children, particularly among low-income families and certain racial/ethnic minorities. The current study examined the relationship of dietary quality, as measured by the Healthy Eating Index (HEI), to the prevalence of ECC in 2- to 5-year-old children. Data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) were used for the study. We used logistic regression to compute adjusted odds ratios (OR) for ECC and 95% confidence intervals (CI). Children with the best dietary practices (uppermost tertile of the HEI) were 44% less likely to exhibit severe ECC compared with children with the worst dietary practices (lowest tertile of the HEI). A healthy eating pattern geared for promotion of optimal child development and prevention of chronic disease in later life may also reduce the risk of early childhood caries, particularly severe early childhood caries.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-6
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Dental Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2009