A 10% “fat tax” on soft drinks would help keep us trim, say experts
Slapping a 10 per cent ‘fat tax’ on soft drinks such as cola would cut consumption and help curb rising levels of obesity in this country, experts say.
The price hike would drive down sales of sugary drinks and encourage consumers to buy healthier alternatives, a study suggests.
A similar rise in the price of full-fat milk would make people drink reduced fat milks instead, researchers told the British Journal of Nutrition.
Fizzy drinks: A tax could help Britons slim down, researchers suggest
Four co-authors, including Professor Susan Jebb – who has been the Government’s main adviser on obesity since 2007 – claim the change in policy would result in people making healthier choices.
Denmark became the first country to introduce a fat tax in October, with a surcharge on foods high in saturated fat.
Within days, David Cameron said the Coalition would consider following its example as a way of tackling Britain’s growing obesity levels.
The latest study analyses trends in consumption of drinks by both children and adults in Britain between 1986 and 2009.
‘In testing taxation as an option for shifting beverage purchase patterns, we calculate that a 10 per cent increase in the price of sugar sweetened beverages could potentially result in a decrease of 7.5ml per capita per day,’ the researchers stated.
Overweight: One cause of UK obesity is consumption of sugary drinks
A similar increase in the cost of full-fat milk would also reduce consumption of it by 5ml per person per day and increase intake of reduced fat milk by 7ml per head every day, their report added.
However, Professor Jack Winkler, a professor of nutrition policy, said the tax would be ‘ineffective’.
Consumers will simply buy larger bottles, use cheaper shops, drink cheaper brands or buy soft drinks on ‘special offer’, he warned.
The soft drinks industry branded the idea ‘ineffective, intrusive and unfair’.
A Department of Health spokesman said: ‘This is one of a number of independent academic papers that looks at the likely impact of taxes on food products. We keep all international evidence under review.’