When George Osborne delivered his budget this March the inclusion of a sugar tax came as a bolt out of the blue.
The tax is to be put onto sugary drinks, the largest source of sugar for children and teenagers that contributes to childhood obesity. Dentists and orthodontists also largely blame these drinks for tooth decay in children.
The tax is predominately aimed at the fizzy drinks market whilst fruit juices and milk-based drinks remain exempt from the tax.
The sugary drinks will fall into two bands for the purposes of the tax:
- Drinks that contain above 5g per 100ml – for which the suggested tax is 18p per litre
- Drinks that contain above 8g per 100ml – for which the suggested tax is 24p per litre
As it stands drinks such Dr Pepper, Fanta, Sprite and Schweppes Indian tonic water are among those that will be hit by the lower level tax. Brands such as Coca-cola, Pepsi and Lucozade Energy will be hit by the higher rate.
Why introduce a sugar tax?
To benefit our children
It is claimed that the tax is designed to benefit the long term health care of our children.
“Doing the right thing for the next generation is what this government and this Budget is about.”
No matter how difficult and how controversial it is, you cannot have a long-term plan for the country unless you have a long-term plan for our children’s healthcare.” George Osborne
Obesity in children can cause damage to their health not only now but in their future adult life. It can lead to type-2 diabetes and tooth decay for starters. That is without even touching on cancers and heart disease.
It is fizzy drinks that have been highlighted as a single cause for concern due to the sugar in them being dubbed as empty calories. We just don’t realise that we could be consuming above our daily sugar allowance of between six or seven teaspoons a day with one can of fizzy drink. Many cans contain nine teaspoons of sugar, with some having as many as fifteen.
To generate cost savings for the NHS
The cost savings for the NHS could come in around £300m over twenty years as a result of reducing the number of cases of diet-related diseases. A massive cost saving to the NHS as a result of reducing health care cases by tens of thousands thanks to the implementation of the sugar tax.
The estimated savings on oral health cases has not at this point even been calculated, there are many more savings to be made in this health sector too.
The revenue from the tax is also set to raise revenue, to the region of £1bn per annum with the implementation of a 20% tax. It seems to be a no-brainer and with the savings and revenue raised we would see an improvement in both our schools and NHS.
With money being saved, earned and health cases being reduced how can we say no to such a tax?
Who has to pay?
It will be the soft drinks companies that are hit with the taxation, which will have a knock-on effect to the consumer. The tax will not come into force until 2018, giving the soft drinks companies time to change their recipes and reduce the sugar content to reduce their levels of tax.
The consumer will, of course, see a rise in the price of the sugary drinks that contain the highest levels of sugar, but then this is the point of the tax. Its implementation is to put pressure on the drinks companies and parents to take some responsibility for the health effects of these products.
Why not chocolate and cake?
Well, it’s simple really. A slice of cake or a bar of chocolate is seen as a treat, the type of treat that we’re all well aware that we should not overindulge in. People are just not aware of the amount of sugar in a fizzy drink, it’s empty hidden calories.
With only 5 teaspoons of sugar in a Cadbury’s Wispa and a whopping 11 teaspoons in a can of Pepsi, it’s easy to see why it’s the drinks that have been targeted.
Sugar is a real and serious problem
Obesity rates in the UK are a real and serious public health issue. With one in ten children being classed as obese when they start primary school, and with these ratios only increasing as they get older, something had to be done.
It’s not just about the money that can be made or saved by the tax, but more the message that implementing such a tax gives. We have spent time and money battling smoking, now it’s time to take on the sugar.
It’s time for the confectionery giants to have a duty of care to their consumers and for the rest of us to take some responsibility for ourselves and our children. Knowledge is power and this goes for our nutritional knowledge too.
This subject is constantly debated in the media, but what are your thoughts?