Government must impose sugar tax on food to fight obesity


When the soft drink tax was announced in 2016, the industry argued that it was more effective as a stealth tax than as a public health policy. “The facts do not suggest that sugar taxes are working to change behavior,” warned Leendert den Hollander, then managing director of Coca-Cola in the UK.

He might have been right about the consumer, but he was wrong about the behavior of his business. By the time the tax was introduced two years later, most drinks sold by Coca-Cola would have a tax threshold set at 5g of sugar per 100ml, with the exception of the Prime Minister’s beloved classic coke. Rishi Sunak. It was re-prescribed to fall below. As a result, the industry’s sales and profits were maintained, but the consumption of sugar in all soft drinks declined by 30%.

This is a lesson on how to fight obesity. Companies can re-prescribe many products without anyone noticing. Most consumers might ignore the tax increase, but the industry thought there was enough temptation for cheaper products, so they changed the recipe.

These small changes are summarized. On average, the British consume only 195 calories per day. This is roughly equivalent to a packet of potato chips. If half of today’s overweight people reduce their calorie intake by 250 calories, the weight category will drop and 10 million people will be able to enjoy healthy lives for another two years.

The government is moving in the right direction. Recently, he announced his intention to ban advertising of junk food on television by 9 p.m. Later this week, Henry Dimbleby, co-founder of restaurant chain Leon, will announce the second part of his national food strategy. However, more drastic measures are needed to drastically reduce obesity in the UK.

First, the sugar tax should be applied to all large foods sold in stores and restaurants, or at least the most important products. It may start at a low level, but it will increase over time, providing the industry with a clear signal and incentives for reorganization and resizing.

Second, governments must require front-of-package labeling using simple traffic light-style heuristics such as the Nutri Score, which shows evidence of changes in consumer behavior. Like the sugar tax, most people may not change their behavior, but it is the healthiest will that is enough to spur the industry on. What seems subtle to the consumer is actually the envy of the producer.

Third, while there are many foods whose reforms may not be immediately implemented, various grand prizes can spur innovation. Just as the ‘vaccine purchase subsidy’ spurred vaccine development, the public sector competed to develop healthier and cheaper school meals, and those who achieved their goals signed a large number of public contracts. . Can be won.

The policy responses needed to tackle obesity are becoming increasingly clear, but the general public is not on the same page. According to a new study by the Nesta, Innovation Foundation and Behavioral Insights teams, most people still believe that the most effective policy is to encourage people to change their diet and exercise. To lay the groundwork for reform, we need a credible messenger to demonstrate that obesity requires national and industrial action. We also need to demonstrate that the transition is fair for low-income people. For example, sugar tax revenues could be used to increase spending on free school meals approved by Marcus Rashford or on family allowances.

These measures can be offensive to governments enthusiastic about reclaiming individual freedom. However, as snacks face rising healthcare costs and weak finances, measures that save lives, protect the NHS and justify tax increases may trigger a pragmatic approach. With the lowest income decile Die almost 10 years ago A muscular and social approach to losing weight compared to the best people can also be the best way to take it to the next level.

The writer is the CEO of Nesta

Government must impose sugar tax on food to fight obesity Government must impose sugar tax on food to fight obesity


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