Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Food & Beverage Analysis
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Oxford Experts Call for Sugary Drinks Tax in the UK

Published: Thursday, June 28, 2012
Last Updated: Thursday, June 28, 2012
Bookmark and Share
The introduction of taxes on sugary drinks is believed to be one measure that would encourage healthier diets and help tackle the obesity crisis in the UK.

Dr Oliver Mytton and Dr Mike Rayner of the Department of Public Health at Oxford are the lead authors of paper in the BMJ summarising the evidence on health-related food taxes.

The researchers conclude that taxes on unhealthy foods do have the potential to improve health. They suggest that a taxation level of around 20% (equivalent to VAT) could have a meaningful reduction in disease within populations.

However, they say the evidence base needs strengthening to better predict the wider effects of introducing some of these taxes – such as 'fat taxes' or 'junk food taxes' – and understand what foods consumers might switch to.

Beyond their analysis in the BMJ of the existing evidence, Dr Mytton and Dr Rayner believe that the urgency of the health problems related to poor diets in the UK demands action now.

They believe a tax on sugary drinks would be a safe and reliable option to improve health.

Dr Rayner said: 'Obesity has rocketed recently and if anything our diet is getting worse. We need to take steps to tackle this problem as a nation. It's affecting our health and it’s affecting our wallets through the increased burden on the NHS and the taxpayer.

'David Cameron said that he wanted to look at fat taxes last October. He should now commission an independent review of the existing evidence that looks at the options for taxing unhealthy foods.'

The Oxford team argue that government intervention such as taxation can be justified when the market fails to provide the 'optimum' good for society's well-being, as with the duties on alcohol and tobacco, for example.

A tax on sugary drinks is one measure that is a sure, safe bet that would change how many calories people consume across the nation and have a significant effect on obesity levels.

Dr Mike Rayner
'
It is basic economic theory that raising the price will change consumption, and we already use the taxation system in this way to influence behaviour,' explained Dr Rayner. 'We have taxes on unhealthy goods such as tobacco and alcohol. And we don't have taxes on books as they can be seen as a public good to be encouraged.'

He added: 'There would be benefits for the healthcare system too. It would save taxpayers' money through reduced NHS costs as well as combat diet-related disease such as obesity and heart disease.

'It is also likely that a tax on unhealthy foods would act as an incentive to encourage manufacturers to change what goes into their products and make them healthier over time.'

A tax on sugary drinks is not going to cure obesity by itself, Dr Rayner is careful to state. 'There is no single solution: we need an environment conducive for good health. We need a comprehensive strategy to deal with the affordability, the availability and the promotion of unhealthy foods.'

VAT is already applied to some foods and drinks in this country, but it is done inconsistently – as the recent pasty tax debate revealed. 'VAT should be totally reformed in line with health goals,' said Dr Rayner.

New taxes introduced in Denmark (on saturated fats) and France (on sweetened drinks) will provide the opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of such measures in the coming years.

Taxes can have untoward or unexpected effects, and it is possible that a tax on saturated fats, like that introduced in Denmark, could be counter-productive, suggests Dr Rayner.

In avoiding some foods high in saturated fat, people could replace them with foods high in carbohydrates – food that also tends to be high in salt. The overall effect on health might be negative.

That is why Dr Rayner believes a tax on sugary soft drinks is the best option. Even if people moved to diet drinks instead, it would still be beneficial for health.

'A tax on sugary drinks is one measure that is a sure, safe bet that would change how many calories people consume across the nation and have a significant effect on obesity levels,' said Dr Rayner.


Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,400+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 3,700+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Eating Organic Food Doesn't Lower Overall Cancer Risk
Women who always or mostly eat organic foods have the same likelihood of developing cancer as women who eat conventionally produced foods.
Tuesday, April 01, 2014
Research Indicates Risks of Consuming High Fructose Corn Syrup
New study indicates that large amounts of HFCS can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Friday, November 30, 2012
Scientific News
Pesticide Found in 70 Percent of Massachusetts’ Honey Samples
New Harvard University study says that the pesticide commonly found in honey samples is implicated in Colony Collapse Disorder.
Printed "Smart Cap" Detects Spoiled Food
It might not be long before consumers can just hit “print” to create an electronic circuit or wireless sensor in the comfort of their homes.
Red Wine Antioxidant May Provide New Cancer Therapy Options
Resveratrol and quercetin, two polyphenols that have been widely studied for their health properties, may soon become the basis of an important new advance in cancer treatment,
New Research will Show How the Environment Could Change the Way We Eat
A new study funded by the Wellcome Trust will investigate how environmental changes over the next 20-30 years may impact the way we eat, in the UK and worldwide.
Blue LEDs Can be Used to Preserve Food
Blue light emitting diodes (LEDs) have strong antibacterial effect on major foodborne pathogens and can be used as a chemical-free food preservation method, a new study has found.
FDA Declares Trans Fatty Acids Unsafe for Consumption
TFAs are widely recognized as the most harmful fat with regard to causing cardiovascular disease (CVD).
Fat, Sugar Cause Bacterial Changes that may Relate to Loss of Cognitive Function
A study has indicated that both a high-fat and a high-sugar diet, compared to a normal diet, cause changes in gut bacteria that appear related to a significant loss of "cognitive flexibility," or the power to adapt and adjust to changing situations.
How Anthrax Spores Grow in Cultured Human Tissues
New findings to help predict risk and outcomes of anthrax attacks.
Food Research at the Microscale
Thermal stage microscopy allows food science microscopists to analyze samples under a range of conditions.
Chocolate, Chocolate, It's Good For Your Heart
Here's a sweet notion: Eat a little chocolate each day and you could be doing your heart a favor.
SELECTBIO

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,400+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,700+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FREE!