Australian study shows sugary soft drink link with tooth decay

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 31st January 2013

Australian research, published online this month and to be published soon in the American Journal of Public Health,  has shown that the “consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) should be considered a major risk factor” for dental problems such as tooth decay and cavities.

According to the study, “caries [otherwise known as tooth decay disease or a cavity] was significantly associated with greater SSB consumption”.

Undertaken by the Australian Research Centre for Population Oral Health (ARCPOH), which operates out of the University of Adelaide, the four year study involved 16, 508 children, aged 5 to 16 years old.

“Children who brushed their teeth less often and were older, male, of low S[ocial] E[conomic] S[tatus], from rural or remote areas consumed significant more SSBs”, notes the study.

However, ARCPOH also investigated the effects of fluoridated water on the association between SSBs and caries, ultimately finding that a “greater exposure to fluoridated water significantly reduced the association between children’s SSB consumption and dental caries”. 

The study thus concluded by reconfirming “the benefits of community water fluoridation for oral health” based on their results that the use of fluoridated water ameliorated the effects of SSB consumption on children.

News of this study correlates with recent calls by Australian health advocacy groups to acknowledge the health risks associated with SSBs. Earlier this month, Australian Food News reported on the claim that there are about 16 packs of sugar in a 600ml sugar-sweetened soft drink.

The Australian National Children’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey in 2007 found that almost half (47%) of children consumed SSBs daily, with 25% consuming sugary soft drinks daily.