Viewpoint: Should sugary drinks be subject to a new tax?

  1. 1) By Professor Jason Halford, Professor of Experimental Psychology at the University of Liverpool and Chairman of the Association for the Study of Obesity

“With over 30% of children and 70% of adults in the UK either overweight or obese action is clearly needed and we dramatically need to reformulate our diet if we are to challenge these current levels.

Reducing the levels of fat and sugar in the diet could be an effective means of reducing energy intake so this tax represents one potential tool to achieve this.”

“However, any tax on its own cannot reverse the obesity problem, but as part of a comprehensive package, including effective limitation on food promotion to children, and increasing the range and affordability of health options it might be able to start to turn the problem around.”

“The responsibility deal has yielded some commitments from industry (yet to be enacted), the deal does not include all of the food industry, and it cannot replace a comprehensive Governmental led policy approach.”

  1. 2) By Professor Simon Capewell, Professor of Clinical Epidemiology at the University of Liverpool

“The proposition by this report that the £1billion raised from a UK duty on sugary drinks should be ring-fenced for a ‘Children’s Future Fund’ to spend on programmes to improve children’s health and future well-being represents a sensible option.”

2 thoughts on “Viewpoint: Should sugary drinks be subject to a new tax?

  1. Dave Neary

    Increasing the taxation and price of high sugar fizzy drinks is clearly a step in the right direction but it is only one part of a wider obesity and physical activity strategy. The soft drinks industry will undoubtedly resist such a move and the Responsibility Deal(s) provide the means for producers to take the steps that they wish to take in terms of reductions in sugar, fat and salt. It is unlikely that the Department of Health would climb the ladder of intervention as far up as taxation or regulation.

    The notion of hypothecation of taxation has always been anathema to the Treasury so it is even more unlikely that they would countenance the use of such a tax to be used in a Children’s Future Fund.

    I think it says a lot about our contemporary public economy and health that a reasonable proposal to tax a form of consumption that is detrimental to the health of the population, particularly children, and then use the proceeds to promote the wellbeing of children faces seemingly insurmountable obstacles. We can only hope to achieve progress in this specific area when public pressure is put on manufacturers and government to change this situation. We also need to change people’s viwiews and habits when it comes to high sugar fizzy drinks but this will take many years to change the demand side of the issue. We could act relatively quickly on the supply side through regulation but I wouldn’t hold your breath for action.

    Jeff Rayner and colleagues deserve credit for making the case for a fizzy drinks tax but there is unlikely to be any appetite for action under the Responsibility Deal system.

  2. Colin Johnson

    The government doesn’t need our help in thinking up new ways to extract money from the people, if you are concerned about wieght problems in the population then reduce the price of healthy alternatives not tax the preferred food choices of the masses. The food industry already offers alternatives in the form of ‘light’ versions of many foods and the consumer has the right to make that choice themselves.The ‘experts’ forcing their healthy options on the masses is an infringment of peoples freedom and as we so often see the expert choice can be overturned in future subsequent research.

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