Taxing Sugar in Beverages: A Measure Especially Effective for Young Working-Class Girls – Science et Avenir

In March 2016, the United Kingdom decided to introduce a tax on sugary drinks. I must say that the percentage of obese children in England reaches peaks: 25.5% of sixth graders (against 5% on average in France). At the end of adolescence, these young adults consume an average of 70 grams of added sugars per day, while they should not consume more than 30 grams (6 sugar cubes). And these added sugars mostly come from carbonated drinks. Boys are more affected than girls, and working-class children are at greater risk than those from wealthier families.

Encourage manufacturers to reformulate carbonated drinks to reduce sugar content.

Unlike countries like Mexico, which imposed a tax on sugary drinks to make them more expensive, the English tax was intended to encourage manufacturers to reformulate their recipes to reduce the sugar content: the less sugar in drinks, the lower the tax. To give producers time to review the composition of their drinks, the English legislator decided that the tax would only apply from April 2018. Thus, since the introduction of the tax, the percentage of drinks containing more than 5 g sugar/100 ml has fallen from 49% to 15% of sugary drinks (subject to the tax) sold in the UK. However, there is one caveat: the tax only applies to non-alcoholic beverages, usually carbonated drinks… The last feature: part of the tax paid by manufacturers is also passed on to the retail price (as in Mexico), which increases the cost of these drinks.

Therefore, it was interesting to assess the impact of the English tax on childhood obesity. It was this task that the team of the School of Clinical Medicine of the University of Cambridge (UK) approached under the leadership of epidemiologist Nina Rogers. Indeed, following the 2015 WHO recommendations, based on varying global experiences, a significant number of countries or cities have implemented this type of tax measure, with very different results depending on the measure’s application criteria. In Philadelphia, on the east coast of the United States, a “soda tax” would have been a success: A 50 cent per liter tax on sugary and soft drinks resulted in a 38% drop in sales of these products in the US. city ​​shops. On the other hand, the first “soda tax” introduced in France would have had no real effect; therefore, it was revised in 2018 in the hope of making it more efficient.

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