Frequent consumption of sugary foods increases the risk of caries, especially in those with poor oral hygiene habits. While candy and other desserts are usually targeted as the prime example of sugary foods, sugar-sweetened beverages constitute a significant portion of this category, with sports drinks –often thought of as the “healthy alternative” to sodas – emerging as a leader of sugar consumption in adolescents. This intervention seeks to create a nutrition counseling message directed to adolescents to lessen their consumption of sugary beverages and their risk of caries.
Dentistry critically needs effective, office-based counseling interventions to encourage patients to adopt healthy behaviors for both oral and general health. Efforts to deliver effective brief advice and counseling on healthy eating habits in the dental setting could benefit both a patient’s oral health and general health if dietary habits can be improved. Currently, these types of interventions do not exist. Frequent consumption of sweetened foods and beverages are associated with caries risk. Adolescents are frequent consumers of sweetened beverages (SB), and sports drinks are emerging as a major type of SB. Therefore, this intervention targets the reduction of sweetened beverage consumption among adolescents 11-17 years old.
The overall objective of this planning grant is to demonstrate the feasibility and acceptability of a patient-centered counseling intervention to reduce sweetened beverage consumption among adolescents attending the dental office, identify mediators between the intervention activities and intermediate behavioral outcomes, and fully specify the protocol and design of a trial to test the intervention’s efficacy mechanism on behavior change and oral health outcomes in a dental practice setting.
The Planning Grant activities will focus on the evaluation of an MI-informed approach to engaging adolescent patients to decrease sweetened beverage intake, using iterative implementations of the intervention in small groups of patients, coupled with both quantitative and qualitative measures of hypothesized mediators and behavioral outcomes. The intervention uses strategies to target knowledge, attitudes, intentions, and self-efficacy to change adolescents’ beverage choices. The goal of the iterations will be to determine which strategies are most strongly responsible for behavior change.
Adolescents will be recruited and enrolled from dental offices in the CROWN practice-based research network. Pre and post intervention surveys on knowledge, attitudes, intentions, and self-efficacy will be compared and examined for their effect on the outcomes of creating and adhering to a change plan to decrease sweetened beverages. Mediators of at least moderate effect on the outcomes will be candidates for further testing in a larger trial. The significance of this approach is the potential to result in a provider-accepted, office-friendly motivational approach that activates patients and includes only the elements that are necessary, allowing for the briefest effective intervention.
Catherine Demko, PhD – Department of Community Dentistry
Kristin Williams, DDS, MPH - Department of Community Dentistry
Isabel Parraga, PhD, RD, LD - Department of Nutrition, School of Medicine
Anne Koerber, DDS, Phd - Pediatric Dentistry, University of Illinois at Chicago