Aim: The aims of this study were to investigate parents' intention to control their children's sugar consumption and whether that behaviour is reported to occur in 3-5-year-old preschool children according to sociodemographics and attitudinal factors derived from the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB).
Design: Some 589 children aged 3-5 years (51% boys, response rate = 85%) attending nursery schools in Kampala Central (urban) and Nakawa (suburban), Uganda, were examined clinically for dental caries. A questionnaire to assess sociodemographic factors, sugar intake and the constructs of the TPB was completed by their parents'/caregivers in face-to-face interviews.
Results: Analyses of variance revealed more positive attitudes and stronger intention to control children's intake of sugared snacks in highly as compared to less highly educated parents. Independent of educational level, parents having children with caries perceived themselves to have less control over their child's intake of sugared snacks and perceived them to be more susceptible to tooth decay compared to parents of children without caries. In multiple linear regression, the TPB provided a significant prediction of intention with attitude (b = 0.16, P < 0.001), subjective norms (b = 0.18, P < 0.001) and perceived barriers (b = 0.11, P = 0.01), significant and reported sugar intake with attitudes (b = -0.10, P = 0.02), and perceived susceptibility (b = 16, P < 0.001) all significant.
Conclusion: The TPB components predict parental intention to control sugar snacking and whether that behaviour occurs in preschool children. The strengths of parents' attitudes and reported level of child sugar snacking varied between diverse socioeconomic family groups. Implications for oral health education are discussed.