Sugar tax works

Hefty taxes on sugary soft drinks could help in the fight against obesity because they stop people buying them, according to new research.

How do you think we should tackle the obesity crisis? Picture: Pixabay.
How do you think we should tackle the obesity crisis? Picture: Pixabay.

Sales of sugary drinks in one area dropped almost ten per cent after a one cent per ounce tax hike, suggesting sugar taxes actually work.

Now, many countries are considering or already implementing taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) in an effort to curb obesity and type 2 diabetes levels.

Barry Popkin of the Carolina Population Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA and Lynn Silver from the Public Health Institute conducted a before and after study of the prices, sales of beverages and consumer spending on fizzy pop in Berkeley, California.

They also worked out whether changes in prices of drinks reflect the tax amount of one cent per ounce in various stores.

One year after the introduction of the tax, sales of sugary drinks fell by 9.6 per cent while their sales in surrounding areas rose 6.9 per cent.

Sales of water increased by 15.6 per cent post tax and sales for other non-taxed drinks such as unsweetened teas, milk and fruit juices also rose.

Results from this study as well as other studies, assessing similar taxes in Mexico and France, provide promise for the future of such taxes, which are currently being debated in Parliament.

The authors, whose research was published in PLOS Medicine, said: “Prior to its implementation, it was unknown whether the tax would be high enough to effect change in purchasing, so it’s encouraging to see such change.

“Money raised from these taxes have already been directed towards community programs, and will continue to be used to further educate the public about healthy dietary choices, obesity and diabetes.

“Whether the use of such taxes will lead to longer term goals such as reduced levels of obesity and diabetes remain to be seen; early indications from these studies provide hope.”