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Study: Dental treatment costs in the billions due to the high sugar consumption


Excessive sugar consumption causes 12 billion euros in dental treatment costs in Germany
A high sugar consumption is associated with various health risks, whereby the consequences for dental health in particular should be known to every elementary school child. At national level, scientists have now demonstrated a direct connection between sugar consumption and the amount of dental treatment costs. According to this, billions of euros are required for dental treatment every year in Germany because the sugar consumption is too high.

Globally, people eat too much sugar, which has negative consequences for their teeth and for their wallets, report the scientists at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) and Biotechnology Research and Information Network AG (BRAIN AG). Together, the researchers investigated what treatment costs are incurred in the states worldwide as a result of excessive sugar consumption. Their results have been published in the specialist journal "International Journal of Dental Research".

128 billion dental treatment costs worldwide
According to the researchers, the global dental treatment costs amount to around 128 billion euros per year. In Germany alone it is 17.2 billion euros annually. For their current study, the scientists evaluated the "representative data on the occurrence of caries, gingivitis (periodontitis) and tooth loss, corresponding treatment costs and disease burden as well as data on sugar consumption in 168 countries for 2010", according to the MLU.

Hidden sugar is also taken into account
Based on the available data, the experts calculated the share of the total costs that was triggered by excessive sugar consumption. In addition to white table sugar, the sugar consumption also took into account the hidden sugar that is found today in many processed products such as drinks, ketchup, ice cream, frozen foods or baked goods.

Rising treatment costs with increasing sugar consumption
Student author Dr. Toni Meier from the Institute of Agricultural and Nutritional Sciences at the MLU emphasizes that the data "shows a clear connection between the consumption of sugar and the occurrence of tooth decay, periodontitis and as a result of tooth loss". For each additional consumption of 25 grams of sugar per person per day - which corresponds to approximately eight sugar cubes or a glass of sweetened lemonade - the dental treatment costs in countries with high incomes rose by an average of EUR 75 per person per year.

Germany with high dental treatment costs per capita
In Germany, according to the researchers, an average of between 90 and 110 grams of sugar are consumed per person per day, and the dental treatment costs average 210 euros per person per year. Germany is in the group of countries with the highest treatment costs per capita and year, according to the MLU. Switzerland (300 euros), Denmark (178 euros) and the USA (138 euros and 185 US dollars) also had particularly high dental treatment costs.

Potential savings of twelve billion euros
According to Dr. Meier “would save 150 euros in treatment costs per person in Germany” if the World Health Organization's target of 50 grams of sugar per person per day were achieved. Extrapolated at the federal level, this corresponds to “an annual savings potential of around twelve billion euros,” emphasizes the student author. Since almost all processed products in the supermarket contain large amounts of added sugar, it is becoming increasingly difficult to eat a low-sugar diet. "In order to be able to reduce the nutritional burden of disease, a balanced mix of educational work and nutritional approaches also requires innovative technological solutions," said the co-author of the study, Dr. Katja Riedel from BRAIN AG.

Curb sugar consumption
According to the researchers, the highest proportions of sugar-related dental diseases were found in Guatemala, Mauritania and Mexico. Nutritionist Prof. Dr. Gabriele Stangl of the MLU, also co-author of the study, emphasizes that in emerging countries such as India, Brazil and Mexico, but also in Pakistan and Egypt, excessive disease burdens and cost burdens in the health care system could be avoided if the topic was brought up early in the health and Food policy is enshrined. Here, information campaigns or special taxes on high-calorie foods could represent possible approaches to curb sugar consumption. In Mexico, there has been such a sugar tax since 2014, which had already had a significant impact after just one year: the amount of sugar-sweetened drinks consumed fell by five percent in the first year and doubled to ten percent in the second year. (fp)

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