Center for Alaska Native Health Research
Institute of Arctic Biology
205 Arctic Health Research Building


Phone: 907-474-5528

1-888-470-5576 toll-free within Alaska 

Fax: 907-474-5700

Improving the oral health of Alaska Native (Yup’ik) Children and Adolescents

Project location: Bethel, AK

Category: Oral health, diet, child health

From left, Eliza Orr, Scarlett Hopkins, and Dr. Donald Chi in the clinic in Bethel during data collectionDental caries (tooth decay) is a significant public health problem in Alaska Native children, and dietary added sugars are considered one of the main risk factors. This project is led by Dr. Donald Chi, a pediatric dentist at the University of Washington, in collaboration with CANHR researchers Dr. Diane O'Brien, Scarlett Hopkins, and Eliza Orr.  In this pilot study, we examined the relationship between added sugar intake and dental caries in 51 Alaska Native (Yup'ik) children, ages 6-17 years.  Dental caries were assessed by a dental exam, and added sugar was measured using an objective chemical biomarker in hair that had been previously validated for this population (Nash et al 2013, 2014).  We also administered a parent survey on diet, beverage consumption, and oral health practices.  We found that dental caries were highly prevalent and increased with increased added sugar intake, and that participants reported consuming high levels of sugar-sweetened juice drinks relative to soda or other sources of dietary sugar.  We have created a Community Planning Group to discuss these findings and are developing a community-centered intervention grant to reduce sugar-sweetened juice intake.

Chi, DL, S Hopkins, D O'Brien, L Mancl, E Orr, D Lenaker 2015 "Association between added sugar intake and dental caries in Yup'ik children using a novel hair biomarker" BMC Oral Health 15:121

Project Staff: Scarlett Hopkins, Eliza Orr, Jynene Black

Funded by: University of Washington Royalty Research Award

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