Abstract: Background: The consumption of sugary foods and drinks and poor oral health practices among children is linked to the development of tooth decay. The aim of the study was to explore perceptions and practices concerning sugar consumption and oral health of young children.
Methods: This qualitative study was conducted using semi-structured focus group discussions with parents (n=28) and key informant interviews with healthcare providers (n=10). All data were collected in Tower Hamlets, London. Data analysis was performed on transcribed interviews using a thematic analysis approach and NVivo Starter 11.
Results: Six themes emerged related to sugar and oral health during analysis: (1) Communication: internet as a form of communication and limited communication on UK Sugar Tax to parents. In addition, influencing communicative messages on food packages and labels to parents and children. Themes related to barriers: (2) cost, (3) convenience of sugary foods and drinks, (4) fussy eaters prevent parents from giving their children healthier foods, (5) family influence makes it much harder for parents to feed their children healthier foods, and (6) family influence and mixed messages on sugar and correct oral health practices.
Conclusion: Parents and healthcare providers identified many factors that influence parent’s perceptions and practices around sugar consumption and oral health. However, parents face many barriers to reduce sugar and performing correct oral health practices. Future public health policy planning should consider implementing a multifactorial approach to improve child health that includes the barriers identified in this qualitative study