Background and aim. Nutrition is an essential component in human growth, development and maintenance of healthy life. Tribal communities are highly disease prone and do not have the required access to basic health facilities, also having a high degree of malnutrition.

The aim of this study was to determine the association of body mass index with dental caries among malnourished tribal children of Indore division (M.P.)

Methods. A cross-sectional house to house survey was carried out among 275 study subjects, 6-15 years old tribal children in two major tribal districts of Indore division. Permissions and consent was obtained from local administrative authorities, ethical committee and parents respectively. Anthropometric measurements like height, weight, mid-arm and head circumference were recorded. Children with confirmed malnourishment on basis of BMI index were considered for data collection. Oral examination for caries was conducted according to WHO 1997 survey methods. Descriptive tables and analytical tests such as ANOVA and chi-square test were employed. Independent effects of age, gender, BMI, oral hygiene status and daily intake sugar on caries status were tested using logistic regression analysis.

Results. The mean age was 9.75 (±2.43) years. The caries prevalence among permanent dentition of malnourished children was 61.4% with a mean of 1.61 (±0.48). Among tribes, malnourished children of Bhilala tribe showed significantly higher caries prevalence (1.82±0.46, p<0.01). Increase in caries prevalence was seen with increase in severity of malnourishment (p<0.05). Logistic regression indicated gender (males OR=1.19), age (5-10years OR=1.11) and high sugar intake (OR=1.49) were significantly associated with caries occurrence (p=0.001).

Conclusion. Caries was more prevalent in malnourished tribal children and was seen to increase with severity of malnourishment.


body mass index, dental caries, tribal children