In Japan, the "Food Education Basic Law" (The Basic Law on Shokuiku, food education) was enacted in 2005. The comprehensive food education programs, namely Shokuiku, aim to improve dietary practices to reduce lifestyle-related diseases. Dental caries is one of the diseases associated with inappropriate dietary habits. Thus, food education may influence the prevalence of dental caries. However, there are no data regarding the association between public based-food education and dental caries. The aim of the present study was to investigate the relationship between knowledge about comprehensive food education (Shokuiku) and dental caries experience in Japanese university students. A total of 2,184 students (1,240 men, 944 women), aged 18-20 years, were examined. They had attended the Shokuiku program while in junior/senior high school. The numbers of teeth present, and decayed, missing and filled teeth (DMFT) (dental caries experience) were recorded. Additional information was collected via a questionnaire regarding knowledge about food education, dietary habits and oral health behavior. Of the students, 315 men (20.7%) and 345 women (52.8%) reported that they know and can explain the meaning and content of the word "Shokuiku". After adjusting for potential confounding factors, subjects who did not have knowledge about Shokuiku had higher adjusted odds ratio (OR) for dental caries experience (DMFT >0) than those who had (adjusted OR, 1.23; 95% CI, 1.02-1.48; p<0.05). These observations revealed that having knowledge about comprehensive food education in university students correlates with low prevalence of dental caries.
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