Folia Medica 63(4): 533-540, doi: 10.3897/folmed.63.e55433
Television advertising and development of dental caries in children aged 6 to 12 years
expand article infoLiliya Doitchinova, Dimitar Kirov, Petar Bakardjiev, Maria Nikolova, Dimitar Hristov
‡ Medical University of Sofia, Sofia, Bulgaria
Open Access

Introduction: Advertising today is increasingly seen to be targeting children as they can be easily persuaded. The influence on them is reinforced by children’s difficulty in perceiving messages critically, in distinguishing the real from the imaginary, in their great confidence in messages from the media and popular characters and personalities, and in their inability to recognize risk and their propensity for imitation.

Aim: The aim of the study was to investigate the impact of television advertising on children’s nutritional preferences and the intensity of dental caries in children aged 6 to 12 years.
Materials and methods: The study included 277 children (158 boys and 119 girls) aged 6 to 12 years from different schools in Sofia. A survey was used to assess the nutritional preferences of these children who are under the influence of watching television commercials. The DMF (T+t) index introduced by Klein, Palmer & Knutson (1938) was used to assess the intensity of dental caries. A correlation analysis was performed between the time spent watching TV and the development of dental caries.

Results: Many children buy on their own or ask their parents to buy advertised sweet candies, fizzy drinks and fruit juices, which are a risk factor for the development of dental caries. The results show that the longer they spend in front of the TV, the stronger the pronounced caries activity in children, supported by a statistically significant difference (p<0.001), Rho (277)=0.438.

Conclusions: The studied children aged 6 to 12 years have unhealthy dietary preferences for low molecular weight carbohydrate foods, increasing their oral risk profile. Prolonged standing in front of the TV screen correlated with an increase in the intensity of dental caries in half of the children.

advertised products, eating habits, intensity of dental caries, oral health, TV ads (commercials)