Effects of Taxing Sugar-Sweetened Beverages on Caries and Treatment Costs

J Dent Res. 2016 Nov;95(12):1327-1332. doi: 10.1177/0022034516660278. Epub 2016 Oct 1.


Caries increment is affected by sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption. Taxing SSBs could reduce sugar consumption and caries increment. The authors aimed to estimate the impact of a 20% SSB sales tax on caries increment and associated treatment costs (as well as the resulting tax revenue) in the context of Germany. A model-based approach was taken, estimating the effects for the German population aged 14 to 79 y over a 10-y period. Taxation was assumed to affect beverage-associated sugar consumption via empirical demand elasticities. Altered consumption affected caries increments and treatment costs, with cost estimates being calculated under the perspective of the statutory health insurance. National representative consumption and price data were used to estimate tax revenue. Microsimulations were performed to estimate health outcomes, costs, and revenue impact in different age, sex, and income groups. Implementing a 20% SSB sales tax reduced sugar consumption in nearly all male groups but in fewer female groups. The reduction was larger among younger than older individuals and among those with low income. Taxation reduced caries increment and treatment costs especially in younger (rather than older) individuals and those with low income. Over 10 y, mean (SD) net caries increments at the population level were 82.27 (1.15) million and 83.02 (1.08) million teeth at 20% and 0% SSB tax, respectively. These generated treatment costs of 2.64 (0.39) billion and 2.72 (0.35) billion euro, respectively. Additional tax revenue was 37.99 (3.41) billion euro over the 10 y. In conclusion and within the limitations of this study's perspective, database, and underlying assumptions, implementing a 20% sales tax on SSBs is likely to reduce caries increment, especially in young low-income males, thereby also reducing inequalities in the distribution of caries experience. Taxation would also reduce treatment costs. However, these reductions might be limited in the total population.

Keywords: dental public health; diet; eating behavior(s); economic evaluation; nutrition; tax policy.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Beverages / economics*
  • Dental Caries / economics*
  • Dental Caries / etiology*
  • Dietary Sucrose*
  • Female
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Economic
  • Public Health
  • Taxes*


  • Dietary Sucrose