Do school break-time policies influence child dental health and snacking behaviours? An evaluation of a primary school programme

R. Freeman, M. Oliver

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    10 Citations (Scopus)


    Objective The aim of the two-year controlled trial was to evaluate the effectiveness of the 'Boosting Better Breaks' (BBB) break-time policy to reduce obvious decay experience and sugar snacking in a cohort of nine-year-old children attending intervention and control primary schools. Study design A matched controlled prospective trial design. Participants Children in Year 5 were invited with their parents/guardians to take part. The children were assessed at baseline and at 24-month follow-up. One hundred and eighty-nine children attended intervention schools and 175 attended control schools which were matched for socio-economic status (SES), school location and co-education status. Method The outcome variables were obvious decay experience and evidence of sugar snacks found in the children's rubbish bags. All children were asked to complete a questionnaire and keep evidence of the snacks they consumed starting from school-time break to when they retired for bed in a numbered and coded 'rubbish bag' on a specific collection day at baseline and 24-month follow-up. All children had a dental examination at baseline and 24-month follow-up. Results Sixty percent of children at baseline and all of the children at follow-up had at least one sugar snack in their rubbish bag. The most popular snacks at follow-up were sweets, chocolate, crisps and carbonated drinks. In the school environment children attending BBB policy schools had significantly lower mean scores for sugar snacks scores at baseline but equivalent mean sugar snacks scores at follow-up compared with children attending control schools. In the outside school environment there was no effect of school intervention on sugar snack scores. Decay into dentine at follow-up was predicted by school intervention status and evidence of sugar snacks consumption outside school and at home. Conclusions The BBB break-time policy did not achieve its health promotion goals of promoting child dental health or encouraging children to adopt healthier dietary habits in school or in the wider environment in which they lived.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)619-625
    Number of pages7
    JournalBritish Dental Journal
    Issue number12
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2009




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