Sugar — The Battle in Britain


It is instructive to follow the progress of an attempt at social engineering in one particular country, and Childhood Obesity News has been tracking the anti-sugar movement as it manifests in the United Kingdom. For those unfamiliar with the British way of doing things, it seems that announcements of a new sugar tax have been arriving regularly over the past year.

Apparently, several layers of bureaucracy must be penetrated before an idea becomes a law. Late in November, the plan was announced again, a plan that encompassed a tax on soft drinks, a 20% reduction in the amount of sugar in food products, and a voucher program that would enable people on public assistance to buy fruits and vegetables.

Early in December, Giles Sheldrick reported for

Draft legislation published today paves the way for a two-band levy — due to come into force in April 2018 — which is aimed at halting the obesity crisis.

The final tax is expected to have two thresholds…

Experts estimate the tax will raise £520million a year but health campaigners said the plan does not go far enough.

Tam Fry, of the National Obesity Forum, who is the go-to source in these matters, told the reporter:

We’ll be disappointed if the Treasury doesn’t slap a 50 per cent levy on the top band and 30 per cent on the lower band. The epidemic is at crisis levels and we’re past the point of considering more politically correct proposals of 10 to 20 per cent.

Those are very daunting tax levels, which should discourage the economically disadvantaged from buying sugar-intensive beverages, and encourage them to buy more healthful drinks instead. But as at least one worried expert has pointed out, what if the industry raises the price of low-sugar drinks so they cost as much as the taxed sugar bombs? Give the two adversaries a level playing field price-wise, and the consumers, who understandably want the most bang for their buck, will naturally gravitate to the sugar-saturated products.

The industry could decide to cancel out, negate, and neutralize any projected gains from the sugar tax. With higher overall prices, they might sell fewer units overall. But the sanctity of high-sugar drinks would be maintained. Corporations can afford to lose some money, for a while, to make their point, which is, “Don’t mess with us.”

Good news

By that time, good news was also coming along, about some companies that either make a genuine effort, or put on a good show of making a genuine effort. The Tesco food chain, whose house brands include 251 separate and distinct beverages, announced that the sugar content would be reduced in each and every one. The Lucozade and Ribena beverage brands told the press they would reduce the sugar content in their products by 50% in time to disqualify them from being sugar-taxed.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Not so sweet? Britain moves closer to introduce sugar tax on fizzy drinks,”, 12/05/16
Source: “Tesco HALVES sugar content in own-brand fizzy drinks to help tackle obesity,”, 11/07/16
Source: “Lucozade and Ribena to reduce sugar content by 50% — avoiding the Government’s sugar tax,”, 11/09/16
Photo credit: Dennis Skley via Visualhunt/CC BY-ND

One Response

  1. I don’t get how sugar tax will work. We have been taxing cigarettes for years and people still smoke. If people want sugary drinks they will afford them whatever the tax. What am I missing here?

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Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
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