Summary The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship of dietary preference to bite force and occlusal contact area in Japanese elementary school children. A total of 348 children, aged 7-12 years, from two public elementary schools located in Okayama Prefecture, Japan, participated in the study. Clinical examination included decayed, missing and filled teeth (dmft and DMFT), and total numbers of deciduous and permanent teeth. Bite force and occlusal contact area were measured using a pressure-detecting sheet. Dietary preference was assessed using a questionnaire in which the answers were given in like/dislike form. Mann-Whitney U-test and multiple logistic regression analysis were applied to analyse the data. In multiple logistic regression analysis after adjustment for age, gender and total number of teeth present, children who liked cabbage and celery showed significantly higher bite force (P = 0·05 and P < 0·01, respectively) than those who disliked these. Children who liked cabbage and celery also showed higher occlusal contact area (P < 0·05 and P < 0·01, respectively) than those who disliked these. The Japanese elementary school children who liked hard foods such as cabbage and celery showed higher bite force and higher occlusal contact area than those who disliked these foods. A positive attitude towards harder food items might contribute to healthy development of the masticatory apparatus.
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