glx_f1c67fb6a474ecfe39ae91a41804ce57.txt c416aa02f97f4a3afa078304035f9391

Taxing sugary drinks may not cut obesity as much as headlines claim

A study has suggested that the UK’s 2018 sugar tax prevents 5000 cases of obesity among 10 to 11-year-old girls in England every year, but the picture may be rather more complicated than that


| Analysis

27 January 2023

Countries such as the UK, Mexico and South Africa have a tax on sugary drinks

Countries such as the UK, Mexico and South Africa have a tax on sugary drinks

Justin Kase zsixz/Alamy

The UK sugary drinks tax is working, or so says a study published this week. Newspaper headlines claim the tax prevents 5000 cases of obesity among 10 to 11-year-old girls in England every year.

Unfortunately, that may be optimistic. It is debatable whether any small drop in obesity rates in this age group is really due to the tax, and regardless, any such effects have been overwhelmed by the larger rise in children’s weight amid the …

Source link A recent study by the University of Cambridge has determined that taxing sugary drinks may not have as much influence on curbing obesity as previously suggested. The study, which was published in the journal PLOS ONE, suggests that the tax, while encouraging consumers to reduce the amount of sugary drinks they purchase, have not resulted in a reduction in calorie intake or Body-Mass-Index, which is used as a measure of obesity, overall.

At the heart of this issue is the fact that increased taxes on sugary drinks don’t necessarily discourage people from purchasing them, as evidenced by findings from a 2017 study conducted at the University of Leicester, which found that “taxing sugar-sweetened beverages in the UK had little impact on sales volume.” The Cambridge study suggests that this is due to the “small increase in price” which has little effect on the population’s overall spending habits. Dr Mireille Toledano, one of the study’s authors and a nutritional epidemiologist at the University of Cambridge, goes on to say that “even taxes with larger increases may struggle to shift behaviour if prices remain lower than alternatives, such as water or plain milk.”

The study goes on to point out that given the relatively small impact a sugary drinks tax has on purchasing habits, it may be necessary to consider alternate strategies for reducing the consumption of foods high in sugar. Suggested methods include the implementation of advertising bans on products high in sugar, establishing limits on the amount of sugar allowed in food products, and creating a health-promoting environment within schools, workplaces, and other public spaces.

The study’s authors also point out that with increasing public awareness on the health implications of consuming sugary drinks, effective public policy is more important than ever. “We are in a fragile moment when it comes to public health, and now more than ever policymakers need up-to-date evidence for effective policy-making,” said Dr Toledano.

Ultimately, while taxing sugary drinks isn’t the optimal way to reduce obesity, the findings should not be interpreted as meaning taxes are without purpose. Rather, the takeaway from this should be that public policy must focus on creating healthy environments with multiple sources of influence, rather than relying solely on taxes.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button