Fluoride Action Network



  • A large-scale study on school-age children’s health in a Chinese fluorosis area.
  • Low-to-moderate fluoride and children’s anthropometric measurements were assessed.
  • Fluoride exposure is related to increased BMI z-score and prevalence of overweight.
  • The significant associations were differed by gender and mainly observed in girls.
  • Associations were stronger among children of fathers with lower educational status.

High fluoride exposure has been related to harmful health effects, but the impacts of low-to-moderate fluoride on child growth and obesity-related outcomes remain unclear. We performed a large-scale cross-sectional study to examine the association between low-to-moderate fluoride in drinking water and anthropometric measures among Chinese school-age children. We recruited 2430 resident children 7–13 years of age, randomly from low-to-moderate fluorosis areas of Baodi District in Tianjin, China. We analyzed the fluoride contents in drinking water and urine samples using the national standardized ion selective electrode method. Multivariable linear and logistic analyses were used to assess the relationships between fluoride exposure and age- and sex-standardized height, weight and body mass index (BMI) z-scores, and childhood overweight/obesity (BMI z-score>1). In adjusted models, each log unit (roughly 10-fold) increase in urinary fluoride concentration was associated with a 0.136 unit increase in weight z-score (95% CI: 0.039, 0.233), a 0.186 unit increase in BMI z-score (95% CI: 0.058, 0.314), and a 1.304-fold increased odds of overweight/obesity (95% CI: 1.062, 1.602). These associations were stronger in girls than in boys (Pinteraction=0.016), and children of fathers with lower education levels were more vulnerable to fluoride (Pinteraction=0.056). Each log unit (roughly 10-fold) increase in water fluoride concentration was associated with a 0.129 unit increase in height z-score (95% CI: 0.005, 0.254), but not with other anthropometric measures. Our results suggest low-to-moderate fluoride exposure is associated with overweight and obesity in children. Gender and paternal education level may modify the relationship.