Student NameJackson Dillard
Faculty Mentor NameDr. Michelle Cardel
CollegeCollege of Medicine
MajorNutritional Sciences
MinorDisabilities in Society
Research InterestsObesity; Preventative medicine; Minority populations (e.g., people with disabilities); Clinical nutrition; Food deserts and sustainability
Academic AwardsBenacquisto Scholar; President’s Honor Roll; Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society
OrganizationsInclusive Fitness and Unified Sports (IFUS); TOPSoccer; University of Florida Honors Program
Hobbies and InterestsTeaching and tutoring; Exercising; Cooking

Research Project

Assessing the Relationship Between Oral Health, Weight Status, and Weight Loss in Adolescents with Overweight and Obesity

In the U.S., the prevalence of overweight/obesity (OW/OB) in children and adolescents is 16.9%, affecting 13.7 million children and adolescents. Dental caries, the disease process that causes tooth decay, is the most chronic childhood and adolescent disease in the U.S., affecting more than 25% of U.S. children aged 2 to 5 and 50% of those aged 12 to 15. Similarly to how OW/OB increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, poor oral health is associated with systemic disease. Specifically related to OW/OB, poor oral health presenting as permanent molar caries has been associated with increased body mass index in children ages 8 to 11. Research must be done to acquire a better understanding of how oral health and OW/OB are associated. Dr. Cardel’s study investigates an innovative behavioral treatment, acceptance-based therapy (ABT), focusing on self-regulation skills and increasing tolerance of negative or uncomfortable emotions, as a weight loss tool in adolescents with OW/OB. My project utilizes data from this study to examine the extent to which oral health status and oral health knowledge correlate with OW/OB and weight loss in 14- to 19-year-old adolescents.