Sugar tax comes into effect in the UK

Alcohol tobacco and unhealthy snacks
GettyA study claims that'sin taxes will change the behaviour of vulnerable poor consumers
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08 April, 2018

Coca-Cola is among the soft drinks makers not to change its recipes in light of the introduction of the United Kingdom government's sugar tax.

"A war is being waged against sugar by the government and the media", said Emma Clifford, associate director of food & drink at Mintel. The tax is estimated to raise around £520million which will go to the Department for Education to fund sports in primary schools.

The government's move is created to reduce rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes, with childhood obesity levels continuing to rise in the UK.

The government is particularly concerned about obesity among children and young people, with teenagers consuming more than three times the recommended amount of free sugar.

The rationale for the sugar tax, first devised by George Osborne when chancellor in 2016, is simple.

Caroline Cerny, Obesity Health Alliance lead, said it was great news that the levy was in force and that many manufacturers had reduced the sugar levels in their drinks.

"Taxes on consumer goods are always regressive, in that people on lower income generally pay more as a proportion of their income".

Scotland's iconic drink announced a change in recipe past year in response to the sugar tax.

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The levy will apply to added sugar drinks with a total sugar content of 5g or more per 100ml - full details here.

Tesco has reformulated all of its own-label soft drinks to come in below the threshold for the levy, as have Morrisons, Asda and The Co-op.

These costs will also rise in pubs and restaurants.

However, you won't have to pay extra if the drink contains at least 75% milk though, so. there's that.

So far Lucazade, Irn Bru, Fanta, and Ribena are amongst the drinks that have cut their sugar content by almost a half, though some big names like Coca-Cola have yet to change their recipes.

According to the Lancet study, evidence shows that high-income families generally consume more, and spend more, on alcohol, soft drinks and snacks, compared to those on less money.

Though there has been a great deal of enthusiasm for the levy, which was welcomed in a notable cross-party consensus when George Osborne put it forward in his Spring Budget 2016, there have been voices of dissent claiming it would do little to impact the high rates of childhood obesity the United Kingdom experiences.


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