Child Oral Health and Nutrition


Over recent decades, there has been a dramatic worldwide increase in the marketing and consumption of “junk food” such as candy, chips and soda. In developed countries, children typically consume junk food in addition to other food, which has resulted in an epidemic of childhood obesity. However, in many developing countries, children consume junk food instead of other food, which has led to an epidemic of tooth decay, mouth pain and malnutrition. In fact, early childhood tooth decay or “caries” is the most prevalent and neglected chronic disease worldwide. In developing regions, particularly Latin America and Southeast Asia, 50-95% of children under age 6 suffer from mild to severe tooth decay.

Our Work

CGPH supports the research development and CGPH faculty who spearhead the Children’s Oral Health and Nutrition Project, a collaboration among universities, NGOs and Ministries of Health to improve children’s health and educational potential by focusing on early promotion of nutrition and oral health, and prevention of tooth decay and malnutrition.

We support graduate students and provide learning opportunities focusing on innovative combinations of low-cost and effective interventions—health education, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and dental application of fluoride varnish—for children birth through age 6 and their families, with measurable positive outcomes. Professor Karen Sokol-Gutierrez began the project in 2004, and currently conducts research interventions in El Salvador, Honduras, Ecuador, Nepal, and Vietnam.

CGPH is grateful to have had the support and partnership from the Health Roots Foundation for Global Health since the conception of this special project. Besides this core partner, we are also in close partnership with the UCSF School of Dentistry Global Oral Health.

The American Dental Association has recently released a publication, The Future of Oral Health , by Scientific American in collaboration with Colgate:
The article on Prevention (p. 24), describes several of our global children's oral health programs.
Our programs and collaboration with other programs have already reached over 10,000 children and their families around the world.

- The Future of Global Healthy Food: From Science to Policy (October 2013)
- UCB-UCSF 2014 Global Children's Oral Health and Nutrition Symposium
- Lunch and evening seminars on oral health and nutrition topics
- Fellowships for students targeting oral health of vulnerable populations in developing countries
- Partnership building to bring scholars, funders, and advocates together to further research initiatives and advocacy
- 2015 Global Children's Nutrition and Oral Health Symposium

For more information:

Dr. Karen Sokal-Gutierrez, Associate Clinical Professor at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health and (email)

CGPH Fellow, Ana Levin, surveys mothers in Ecuador under Dr. Karen Sokol-Gutierrez's child oral health project