Excessive sugar consumption has given rise to dental treatment costs in the billions according to new research conducted in Germany.
In a study published in the International Journal of Dental Research, researchers from the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg and the Biotechnology Research and Information Network AG evaluated representative data on the prevalence of caries, inflammation of the gums (periodontitis) and tooth loss, corresponding costs of treatment and the disease burden, as well as data on sugar consumption, in 168 countries for the year 2010.
Working from this data, they calculated the share of total costs attributable to excessive consumption of sugar. In addition to white household sugar, the researchers also focused their attention on so-called ‘hidden’ sugar that is contained in many processed products.
“The data shows a clear correlation between the consumption of sugar and the incidence of caries, periodontitis and, as a result, tooth loss,” said lead author Dr Toni Meier.
“For every additional 25g of sugar consumed per person and day—which amounts to roughly eight sugar cubes or a glass of sweetened lemonade—the costs of dental treatment in high-income countries increase on average by US$100 (AUD$125) per person and year.”
In Germany, the average daily sugar consumption lies between 90 and 110g per person. The costs of treatment amount to US$281 ($AUD350) per person and year. This puts Germany in the group of countries with the highest costs of treatment per person and year.
“If the target of 50g of sugar per person and day set by the World Health Organization could be reached, this would result in savings in the costs of treatment within Germany of US$201 (AUD$250) per person and year,” added Meier. “Extrapolating this figure to the federal level shows annual potential savings of approximately €12 billion, or US$16 billion.”
A low-sugar diet is becoming increasingly difficult, however, since almost all processed products in the supermarket contain large quantities of added sugars.