Banning the promotion of sentimental drinks could possibly be more practical than a sugar tax

Weight problems is likely one of the most critical well being issues dealing with the UK, the place round 65% of adults are both overweight or chubby. This has implications. In 2006/2007, weight problems price the NHS £5.1 billion. Meaning we’re prone to pay extra taxes sooner or later to maintain the NHS functioning until one thing is completed. Weight problems additionally predisposes individuals to a threat of a number of critical well being points, together with heart problems, diabetes, sure cancers, melancholy and nervousness.

The consumption of excessive sugar merchandise resembling mushy drinks are a significant reason behind weight problems and diabetes. In April 2018, the UK authorities launched a mushy drinks levy on sugar-sweetened drinks in an effort to scale back the quantity of sugar individuals consumed and management the state of affairs.

The levy was imposed on industries which manufactured or imported sweetened drinks in three tiers: drinks with a sugar content material of lower than 5g/100ml attracted no tax; drinks with sugar content material 5-8g/100ml attracted the essential stage tax of 18p/litre, and people containing greater than 8g/100ml attracted a better tax stage of 24p/litre.

In an try to assess the effectiveness of the coverage, researchers from the College of Cambridge concluded that two years after the implementation of the coverage, although the sugar content material of sentimental drinks was lowered by 30g per family per week, the amount of sentimental drinks bought has remained the identical.

This troubled us so we performed the primary examine evaluating the effectiveness of the mushy drinks levy to proposed obligatory restrictions on soft-drinks promotions.

Gross sales promotions are advertising methods utilized by retailers to lure shoppers to purchase their merchandise. These embrace momentary value reductions, Purchase One Get One Free (BOGOF), purchase Y for £X, coupons, and so forth. Sadly, extra unhealthy meals – these excessive in fats, salt and sugar – are promoted than wholesome ones. Whereas the general purpose is to spice up gross sales, shoppers benefit from promotions for the joys – the pleasure of getting a discount. This leads to impulse shopping for, stockpiling and over-consumption.

A 330ml can of Coke comprises 9 teaspoons of sugar.

Discovering the precise technique

In June 2018, the UK authorities introduced its intention to ban promotions of merchandise excessive in fats, sugar and salt (HFSS) by location and value by way of laws. It then started a session on the plans between January 12 and April 6, 2019.

The session acquired 807 responses from people, companies and organisations. Round 60% of respondents had been in favour of the federal government’s proposal to limit HFSS promotions. Though the examine was carried out to encourage the federal government to implement the coverage as rapidly as doable, it would solely come into power in April 2022.

In our examine, we appeared on the spending of two,568 households in Scotland and in contrast the impression of each insurance policies on completely different teams of shoppers in line with earnings ranges, location, life stage and Scottish index of a number of deprivation.
These in additional disadvantaged areas had been extra prone to proceed to purchase excessive sugar drinks regardless of the tax.

We additionally predicted how shoppers would react to a restriction on the promotion of sweetened drinks based mostly on their spending patterns. Our outcomes counsel that when the federal government goes forward with this coverage in April, the annual amount of drinks purchases might cut back by 35.8% in comparison with 1.4% by the mushy drinks levy. That’s round 25 occasions efficient greater than the mushy drinks tax.

Research assessing its impression conclude that the sugar tax coverage could be very efficient. However promotions are a significant driver of retail purchases and are usually closely directed in the direction of much less wholesome choices. The outcomes from our examine counsel that banning promotions on mushy drinks can have extra success in reducing down the consumption of sugary drinks.

This could be excellent news for the federal government, the NHS and the well being of shoppers. The discount in sugar consumption might assist to deal with diabetes, the costliest burden on the NHS, cut back weight problems and enhance life expectancy throughout the UK. And in flip the federal government might save on the quantity it contributes in the direction of the remedy of weight problems and weight-related illnesses.