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ADA recommends diet, nutrition research focus

August 20, 2015

By Craig Palmer

Bethesda, Md. – The Association recommended the National Institutes of Health include a focus on diet and nutrition in developing the nation's biomedical research agenda.   

The Association offered comments Aug. 18 on proposed research initiatives at the invitation of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, the nation's leading source of funds for oral health studies.

"As a science-based organization, the ADA has a vested interest in ensuring that federal dental research agencies are well funded, their research investments reflect the needs of the dental profession, and the knowledge gained advances the oral health of the American public," the Association told the NIDCR. "The research initiatives you have proposed will help advance those goals."

The technical comments relate to research on sex-related differences in dental, oral and craniofacial disease, HIV-AIDS and related oral pathogens, genetic disorders and oral health, tissue models and wireless biosensors.

The ADA Council on Scientific Affairs also recommended other research initiatives related to the Association's biennial research agenda. The technical comments conclude with diet and nutrition research recommendations.  

"Compared to the available research on obesity, there is a dearth of high-quality scientific literature examining how dietary patterns and nutritional status impact oral health," the Association said. "The ADA proposes adding diet and nutrition as a long-term research theme. Areas needing exploration include:

  • "The extent to which dental caries rates fluctuate with changes in total added sugar consumption, and over what time period(s);
  • "The extent to which low-pH level acids increase the risk for dental caries, alone or in conjunction with sugar;
  • "The extent to which science can justify establishing minimum or maximum daily reference value (DRV) and percent daily value (DV) declarations for added sugars and other non-nutrients (e.g., low pH-level acids, processed starches, etc.);
  • "The extent to which targeted policy interventions have any noticeable impact on oral health outcomes (e.g., imposing excise taxes, restricting portion sizes, etc.), and
  • "The extent to which nutrition counseling in dental offices lowers the prevalence of dental caries."

The Association letter and comments to the NIDCR and a recent communication with the National Institutes of Health are posted at ADA.org.

The Association also advised Congress recently on ADA policy on nutrition and oral health.