The Sugar Tax, is it right?
What is the sugar tax??
In the budget last week, chancellor George Osborne introduced a sugar levy on drinks companies in the UK. The “sugar’ tax will come into force in April 2018 allowing companies time to adjust the amount of added sugar in their products. If they don’t any drink with a total sugar content above 5 grams per 100 millilitres will pay the tax, with a higher rate for more than 8 grams per 100 mililitres. This has come in reaction to the news that experts predict more than half of all boys and 70% of girls could be overweight or obese soon.
Why is the Government introducing this tax?
The move aims to help tackle childhood obesity. Sugar-sweetened soft drinks are now the single biggest source of dietary sugar for children and teenagers.
Ministers hope the move will mean that drinks companies cut down on the amount of sugar in drinks.
The measure could also move consumers towards lower sugar alternatives and reduce portion sizes, they said.
Is this just a way for the Government to make more money?
Well for once, No. The money raised by the levy (estimated at £520m per year) will be ploughed into funding that will impact child health in a positive way. The current plan is for funding to go to increasing sport in primary schools. Given that more than 50% of seven-year olds do not do enough exercise, this can only be a good thing.
Do any other countries have this tax?
Yes they do. Currently there is a sugar tax in France, Hungary and Mexico with South Arica close to introducing its own policy.
And does it work?
A tax on Coca-Cola and other sugar-sweetened drinks in Mexico has succeeded in bringing down sales, which experts hope will help curb the nation’s obesity problem.
The 10% tax was implemented on 1 January 2014 after a battle with the beverage industry. More than 30% of the Mexican population is obese and a love of Coca-Cola and other sugary drinks has been held at least partly responsible. The average Mexican drinks the equivalent of 163 litres of Coca-Cola a year, or nearly half a litre a day.
The Mexican National Institute of Public Health and the University of North Carolina have now carried out an evaluation of the impact of the tax, which shows it cut purchases by an average of 6% across 2014, and by as much as 12% in the last part of the year.
For us, we think that the introduction of a sugar tax is a good idea, and perhaps it doesn’t even go far enough. People who argue that this is more proof of the UK becoming a nanny state are wide of the mark in my opinion. The UK population has had over 10 years to come to terms with the obesity crisis and things are just getting worse. It is the responsibility of the Government to step in and introduce measures the protect its citizens. Looking at finding solutions to help curb the UK’s obesity crisis will have massive repercussions, not least in the amount of strain being placed upon our NHS.
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