Healthy Futures: Engaging the Oral Health Community in Childhood Obesity Prevention

Conference Overview 

The increasing numbers of children who are obese has led federal policymakers to rank childhood obesity as a critical health threat. Multiple approaches are necessary to address the challenge of childhood obesity, and health professionals of all types have roles to play. The role of oral health professionals is an important one because of the relationship between oral health and overall health.

The 2-day national conference served as an important step to involve the oral health community in contributing to the prevention of childhood obesity. The conference was designed to engage a broad cross-section of oral health professionals and other health professionals, representatives from oral-health-related organizations, and experts in childhood-obesity prevention.

The conference agenda included an overview of relevant scientific literature and identification of evidence-based recommendations and strategies that could be employed by oral health professionals and organizations; findings from national surveys of dentists and dental hygienists about their knowledge, skills, and attitudes related to childhood obesity; and structured sessions for attendees to inform childhood-obesity-prevention strategies. The participation of key leaders and organizations in the national conference was critical to informing future directions.

View our Official Conference Program and the press release from the conference.

The National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Center (OHRC), the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA), and the Santa Fe Group are organizing this collaborative effort, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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About the Collaboration Partners

OHRC responds to the needs of professionals working in states and communities in addressing current and emerging public oral health issues. The resource center supports health professionals, program administrators, educators, policymakers, and others, particularly those working in state maternal and child health programs, with the goal of improving oral health services for pregnant women, infants, children, and adolescents, including those with special health care needs, and their families.

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AAPD advocates for policies, guidelines, and programs that promote optimal oral health and oral health care for infants, children, and adolescents, including those with special health care needs.


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ADA is committed to the public’s oral health and to ethics, science, and professional advancement. Initiatives include those related to advocacy, education, research, and the development of standards.

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ADHA leads the transformation of the dental hygiene profession to improve the public’s oral health and overall health. 


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The Santa Fe Group is the nation’s leading independent think tank on oral health policy and practice. The Santa Fe Group fosters policy and initiates actions to improve the health and well-being of the public by analyzing and disseminating health program and policy information, creating networks of concerned citizens, and developing advocacy programs to promote change for improved health.

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About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

For more than 40 years, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve health and health care. The foundation is working with others to build a national Culture of Health enabling everyone in America to live longer, healthier lives. For more information, visit Follow the foundation on Twitter at or on Facebook at

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