Sugar tax saves more than 5,500 under-18s from teeth extractions
More than 5,500 under-18s have been spared extractions due to tooth decay alone – a decrease of 12% as a result of the soft drinks industry levy, it was said.
The duty, known as the sugar tax, is a charge applied to UK-produced or imported soft drinks containing added sugar since April 2018.
Sugar-sweetened pop and juice account for around 30% of the added sugars in the diets of children aged one to three, and more than half by late adolescence.
The largest reductions for teeth removal were found in children aged up to nine, according to the findings.
In England, nearly nine in 10 of all tooth extractions in young children are due to decay, resulting in around 60,000 missed school days a year.
Study author Dr Nina Rogers, of the Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit at Cambridge University, said: “This is an important finding given that children aged five to nine are the most likely to be admitted to hospital for tooth extractions under general anaesthesia.”
Co-author Professor David Conway, of Glasgow University, said: “Tooth extractions under general anaesthesia is among the most common reasons for children to be admitted to hospitals across the UK.
“This study shows that ambitious public health policies such as a tax on sugary drinks can impact on improving child oral health.”
The study, published in BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health, is thought to be the first to use real-world data to examine the relationship between the levy and dental health.
The team analysed hospital admissions for extractions for under-18s in England from 2014 to 2020, four years before and two years after the tax was introduced.
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