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, 29 (1), 173-177

The Impact of a Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Tax on Oral Health and Costs of Dental Care in Australia

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The Impact of a Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Tax on Oral Health and Costs of Dental Care in Australia

P Marcin Sowa et al. Eur J Public Health.

Abstract

Background: Despite a clear causal link between frequent consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) and dental disease, little is known about the implications of a tax on SSBs in the context of oral health. The aim of our study was to estimate the impacts of a SSB tax on the Australian population in the context of oral health outcomes, dental care utilisation and associated costs.

Methods: We designed a cohort model that accounted for the consequences of the tax through the mechanisms of consumer response to price increase, the effect on oral health due to change in sugar intake, and the implications for dental care use.

Results: Our results indicate that in the adult population an ad valorem tax of 20% would lead to a reduction in decayed, missing and filled teeth (DMFT) by 3.9 million units over 10 years, resulting in cost savings of A$666 million. Scenario analyses show that the outcomes are sensitive to the choice of the time horizon, tax rate, price elasticity of demand for SSBs, and the definition of target population.

Conclusion: We found that the total and per-person consequences of SSB tax were considerable, both in terms of dental caries (tooth decay) averted and dental care avoided. These results have to be compounded with the implications of SSB tax for other aspects of health and health care, especially in the context of chronic diseases. On the other hand, the improved outcomes have to be weighted against a welfare loss associated with introducing a tax.

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