If you like to drink sugary drinks, you may have a surprise the next time you buy one, since the so-called sugar tax came into effect in the UK.

From now on, drinks with a sugar content higher than 5g per 100ml will be taxed 18p per liter and 24p for drinks with 8g or more. The tax is expected to help reduce sugar intake, as scientists have shown that sugary drinks lead to weight gain and diabetes. The figures show that 58% of women, 68% of men and 34% of young people aged 10 to 11 years in the UK are classified as overweight or obese.

The United Kingdom sugar tax is intended to encourage the reduction of sugar in beverages. Because it is imposed on beverages above a certain sugar threshold, manufacturers have the option of reducing sugar levels to avoid tax. In this way, the government is sending a clear message to the industry: join and lower the sugar.

In this measure of success, we do not have to wait for the tax to be implemented to know that this had an effect. According to the UK government, more than 50% of soft drink manufacturers (including retailers’ own brands) have already reduced sugar levels, responding to legislation. So much so, in fact, that the government has reduced its forecast of how much money the collection will bring – still reaching 240 million pounds.

Taxes will also contribute to the financing of programs to reduce obesity. Such “bonding” of taxes is relatively rare, but in the UK the tax was introduced in the March 2016 budget.

By Professor Corinna Hawkes, Centre for Food Policy, Department of Sociology


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