Wilson, Mary Kimberly
A feasibility study investigating the practical utility of a dietary assessment tool for use with babies and toddlers, and the potential use within Childsmile.
MSc(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.
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Dental caries is a socially patterned disease, most affecting the lower socio-economic sub-groups of a population. It is thought that prevention of the disease in early childhood can have a long-lasting effect on reducing the risk of caries experience throughout life. One of the risk factors in the aetiology of caries is the amount of sugar-containing foods and drinks consumed, and frequency of intake. Childsmile is an oral health improvement programme for young children living in Scotland, and amongst its other prevention strategies, dietary intervention is considered important to reduce the quantity and frequency of sugar intake in a child’s diet, establishing healthy habits, and good dental and general health.
This study aimed to develop and pilot a dietary assessment tool for use in very young children, as a means of monitoring and facilitating dietary behaviour improvement, and/or as an evaluation tool within a research study. A three-day diet diary was developed for parents to collect data on the dietary behaviour of children aged between six and 18 months. It was piloted in Dumfries and Galloway, by 37 families recruited via their health visitor, and visited at their homes by the researcher. Socio-economic, weaning and feeding data were collected by interview. Verbal instructions were given on the process of completing the diary. When collecting the completed diary, a feedback discussion was conducted. Participants were invited to subsequent focus groups to discuss their involvement in the study.
Despite challenges with recruitment, there was a high rate of participant acceptance and compliance. The diaries were completed to a standard of sufficient quality to extract detailed data about feeding habits, allowing identification of behaviours considered of risk in the aetiology of caries. No obvious difference was found in data quality obtained from participants of different socio-economic status (comparing deprivation, education and occupation measures). The diet diary was considered suitable for use in this age-group, with potential use in older children with minor modifications. The practicalities of the diary administration could be incorporated into Childsmile home or dental surgery visits. However, engagement with parents with low literacy levels and those in hard-to-reach subgroups may be more challenging.
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