Tax on sugary snacks ‘could be more effective than Soft Drinks Industry Levy’

Experts have suggested that a tax on sugary snacks could be ‘more effective’ than the Soft Drinks Industry Levy.

Researchers compiling evidence for the British Medical Journal (BMJ) have suggested that a 20% ‘snack tax’ would have a ‘huge impact’ on obesity levels in the UK.

According to the BMJ, taxing high sugar snacks such as biscuits, cakes and sweets may be more effective at reducing obesity levels than increasing the price of sugary drinks.  

The Soft Drinks Industry Levy came into effect from April 2018, and represents one part of the government’s plan to tackle childhood obesity. As part of the Levy, traders pay one of two rates: either the ‘standard rate’ of 18p per litre, which applies to drinks with sugar content between five grams and up to (but not including) eight grams per 100ml, or the ‘higher rate’ of 24p per litre, which applies to drinks with sugar content equal to or greater than eight grams per 100ml.

According to the government, the Soft Drinks Industry Levy has raised millions for sports facilities and healthier eating in schools, and has encouraged manufacturers to cut sugar in over half the drinks found in UK stores.

The BMJ suggested that increasing the price of sugary snacks by 20% would ‘reduce annual average energy intake by around 8,900 calories’.

However, researchers also stated that fiscal policies aimed at reducing sugar, salt and saturated fat intake ‘fail to incentivise the consumption of healthy foods’.