Soft drinks sugar tax alone weak vs. obesity

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

A sugar tax of 700% would not curb obesity, experts claim
A sugar tax of 700% would not curb obesity, experts claim
Hiking taxes on sugary soft drinks would have little effect on curbing obesity in the UK, pressure group Action on Sugar (AoS) has claimed.

Speaking at the recent Global Sugar Summit, AoS chairman Professor Graham MacGregor said that making the levy apply to any sugar sweetened drink would not have an affect on obesity. 

We’ve got to have multiple levers to get calorie intake down in order to deal with it and just having a soft drinks tax is not going to help,” ​said MacGregor. 

Sugary drinks consumption down

Chris Snowdon, head of lifestyle economics at the Institute of Economic Affairs, explained that a recorded decline in sugary soft drinks consumption by 50% in the past 15 years had not correlated to a decline in obesity, suggesting it was the wrong sector for the government to be focusing on.

Robert Lustig, professor of paediatrics in the division of endocrinology at the University of California claimed the real issue was processed food, pointing to the removal of fibre from products to increase their shelf-life as a greater problem than sugar.

‘Ultra-processed’ foods have received negative press in the past, thanks to a study published in Jama Internal Medicine​ last month that linked them to a higher chance of death.


However, the study met with criticism from the scientific community, thanks to its use of “very unclear and confusing terminology”, ​according to Institute of Food Science & Technology chair Julian Cooper.

“Foods, such as snacks, desserts and some meats, enable consumers to have convenient, safe and shelf-stable choices,”​ he added. “Approved additives keep food in a good condition, preserving nutritional quality.”​

Meanwhile, restaurants, cafés and takeaways have been urged to help consumers adopt healthier eating,​ after it was revealed that more than three in five adults (61%) struggled to find information on the nutritional content of food out of the home.

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French diet

Posted by Andrea Leith,

Totally agree in the UK we seem to miss the point and pay consultants a lot of money to tell us what is common sense. Living in France I see real enjoyment of gourmet good including desserts and wine but people stay slim because they eat in modération and not processed food, they won't snack, they eat the main meal at lunchtime and they walk!

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Still not identifying the real many causes

Posted by Malcolm Reeves,

A fundamental issue is the amount eaten of food in general. Just observe what is served in restaurant and what people order at fast food outlets.
Everything in moderation - soft drinks, chocolate, sweet pastries, meat, starchy vegetables, even starchy fruits, fruit juices, beverages with alcohol ….. taxing the living daylghts out of just one sector will only distort the market and not fix an obesity problem. This is quite unlike the "tax cigarettes approach" to lower lung cancer and other breathing problems

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