What is a sugar tax and what might it achieve?

The NHS is struggling to afford healthcare for the nation as the population becomes increasingly unhealthy. Over 60% of adults in the UK are now either overweight or obese and the government are trying to think of new ways to challenge this problem.  

Various wacky initiatives have been suggested worldwide such as, Hip-hop Public Health and Dubai citizens are being offered gold for every kilo they lose!

However, a more common (and sane) initiative is the sugar tax, which has made it’s way into the public eye again after a Government minister warned health companies that they will be forced to pay a sugar tax if they continue to sell unhealthy food.  The sugar tax is not unprecedented with various forms of sugar tax already seen in America, France, Finland and Mexico.

Academics have argued over the results of this with some pointing to the 10% reduction in people drinking fizzy drinks in Mexico and the increased tax revenue that can be further used to tackle obesity. Whilst others argue that a sugar tax is a sign of a ‘nanny state’ and is furthermore ineffective with some research showing a sugar tax would save the average person just 4 calories a day. 

A sugar tax in the UK might take the form of a toll on all sugary drinks.  A 20% rate would increase the price of your average can of coke from 60p to 72p. Jamie Oliver announced in June 2015 that he was imposing a 10 pence tax on sugary drinks at his restaurants.

Would this be effective in making people switch from fizzy drinks to healthier alternatives in this country? At the moment we don’t know, but it’s likely we’ll find out sooner rather than later as the probability of a sugar tax being introduced in the UK increases with our waistlines. 

Tagged in: Healthcare