Influence of parental socioeconomic characteristics on children’s dietary and oral health habits
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The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between parent’s socioeconomic status including age, income, marital status, parent’s education level, and whether they stay at home and the influence of these factors on their children’s dietary habits and oral health. A total of 60 parents of children aged 1-5-years were included in this questionnaire-based study. Parents were asked to complete a self-administered paper–pencil questionnaire that included 53 items assessing different factors such as their demographic information and their children’s dietary and oral health factors. Demographic information included the parent’s age, income level, marital status, parents’ education level, and if the parents are stay at home parents. Although parents’ age, marital status, income and employment status showed no significant relationship with children’s eating schedule (p>0.05), parents’ education level and whether they stay at home significantly impacted children’s eating schedule (p<0.001 and p=0.02 respectively). Most of the parental characteristics did not significantly impact the consumption of juice and sugar except for parents’ education level. Sugar consumption was inversely related to parents’ education level (p=0.02). When comparing the prevalence of dental caries in the three categories of parents’ education level, children of parents with a bachelor’s degree or higher reported significantly lower prevalence of dental caries among their children than parents from other educational levels(p=0.005). The parental demographical factors showed no influence on whether the child drank from a bottle or sippy cup for children older than 1-year-old. Also, parents’ income did not have a significantly impact on children’s eating habits and the level of caries. In conclusion, our results suggest a possible association between dental caries and selected parental sociodemographic characteristics. Parent’s education level had a significantly positive impact on the eating schedule of their children as well as children’s sugar consumption. Having stay at home parents can positively and significantly impact on adopting a healthy eating schedule among children.