The Sugar Solution… or is it?
Posted by Michael Taylor on 6 April, 2018
The 6th of April is the day that an innovative new sugar tax is being introduced into the UK, specifically with the aim of cutting the amount of sugar in soft drinks by levying manufacturers. Well this has been a hot topic of debate in the Wellbeing People office! We all try to be healthy, but many of us still enjoy a nice cold fizzy beverage, so will this tax make us stop drinking them, or just force us to pay more? Read on to find out a bit more of what we have unearthed!
What are the facts?
The tax being charged is itself very simple. The tax is applied to the manufacturer directly, and it is their decision whether to pass that cost onto the consumer. Drinks containing more than 8g of sugar per 100ml will face a tax rate of 24p per litre, whereas those containing 5-8g of sugar per 100ml are subject to a slightly lower tax rate of 18p per litre. Interestingly fruit juices, which contain plenty of natural sugars, are exempt as they do not carry added sugar. Also exempt are drinks with high milk content due to the fact they have a high calcium content.
Hang on! Where does all that money go?
The British treasury forecast that the new tax would generate a revenue of £500 million a year! However, due to drink manufacturers trying to beat the curve and already reducing the sugar content in their drinks to evade the new tax, that estimate has been lowered to £240 million a year, all of which will be re-invested into school’s sports and breakfast clubs, which is very good news indeed!
So which drinks have had their sugar lowered?
Irn-Bru have cut their sugar from 10.3g to 4.7g per 100ml, Ribena have cut theirs from 10g to 4.5g per 100ml, Lucozade have reduced their sugar content from 13g to 4.5g per 100ml, and Fanta have cut their sugar content by over a third! In fact, the Treasury estimates based on market data that over 50% of manufacturers have reduced the sugar content of their drinks. Interestingly the two main cola companies are breaking the trend, with Coco-Cola and Pepsi both making no changes at all to their high sugar recipes.
What are the benefits of consuming less sugar?
Cutting out sugar can be great for your body. Weight loss is greatly attributed to consuming less sugar, as sugar – or more specifically, fructose – can encourage the storage of fat, as well as making you feel hungrier due to large fluctuations in your blood glucose levels. Reducing the effect of these fluctuations can also lead to a more stable mood and better energy levels, along with a host of other benefits such as healthier teeth, clearer skin, improved heart health and even better brain function!
Is the sugar tax really going to help?
We can see from the above data there is already an obvious benefit to the tax. With so many manufacturers cutting sugar, plus with the money being recycled in a positive way back to the Nation’s children, it seems a no brainer… right? Maybe not so much. There is a risk that the manufacturers will pass the cost of the tax onto the consumer, and when we did a quick poll in our office, 6 out of 10 people who drink fizzy drinks said that they would continue to do so if there was a cost increase, never mind the content of the sugar. In fact, National polls show that less than half of Britons say that this tax will make them cut back. That same poll shows that easier to understand nutritional information would alter the buying habits of three-quarters of people, so is this tax a step in the right direction?
I personally think that the benefits of a sugar tax outweigh the negatives. As a consumer of fizzy drinks, I will sleep a lot better at night knowing that I can still enjoy them while consuming less sugar, even if I end up paying a bit more. But I am just one man! We would love to get your thoughts and opinions on this, so share and comment away!