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Sugar Tax on sweetened drinks is reducing our consumption


Sugar tax is WORKING: Britons’ consumption of sugar has dropped by a teaspoon a day since tax on sweetened drinks was launched
• Since 2015 the sugar in soft drinks sold in the UK has dropped by 30 per cent

Britons’ consumption of sugar in drinks has dropped by more than a teaspoon per person each day due to the ‘sugar tax’, a major study has found.

Since 2015 the sugar in soft drinks sold in the UK has dropped by 30 per cent – equivalent to a daily reduction of 4.6g per person.

That is the equivalent of cutting out more than one teaspoon of sugar each day. The Oxford

Since 2015 the sugar in soft drinks sold in the UK has dropped by 30 per cent – equivalent to a daily reduction of 4.6g per person.

This policy places a levy of 24p per litre on drinks containing more than 8g of sugar per 100ml, and 18p per litre on drinks containing between 5g and 8g per 100ml. The tax, announced by David Cameron’s government in 2016 and brought in by Theresa May in 2018, saw many companies reduce the amount of sugar in their drinks to dodge the levy.

The researchers said 73 per cent of the reduction has been driven by this ‘reformulation’ or the introduction of new low-sugar drinks, and 27 per cent is due to changes in purchasing behaviour.
The researchers assessed the sugar in fizzy drinks, squash, juice, energy drinks, sports drinks and bottled water on sale at Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda from 2015 to 2018.

Glass full of sugar cubes - unhealthy diet concept.
They combined this with industry sales data from the same period to calculate the total sugar sold in soft drinks. The biggest soft drink companies were found to have responded to the levy – with eight out of the top ten companies reducing the sugar in their products by 15 per cent or more.

Coca-Cola – the biggest company – reduced the total sugar content of its drinks by 17 per cent by pushing sales of its ‘Diet’ and ‘Zero’ brands.

Experts welcomed the success of the soft drinks levy – but said food has not seen the same reduction in sugar content. They said this is because sugar in cereals and snacks is subject to a voluntary agreement with the industry, rather than legal enforcement as with the drinks levy.

Public Health England data showed the Government’s flagship childhood obesity strategy – which was meant to see sugar in sweet treats slashed by 20 per cent before 2020 – had resulted only in a 2.9 per cent drop.

Alarmingly, the nation’s overall consumption of sugar has actually risen by 2.6 per cent since 2015, as many foods are not covered by the voluntary scheme.


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