Should we tax soft drinks?
Jack Winkler's commentary on a report by Ng et al., challenges the proposal of a 10% tax on 'sugar-sweetened beverages' (SSB). Both articles appear in the current issue of British Journal of Nutrition and raise important questions about soft drink taxation and consumption.
In their report, 'Patterns and trends of beverage consumption among children and adults in Great Britain, 1986-2009', the authors Ng, Ni Mhurchu, Jebb and Popkin conclude that a 10 % increase in the price of SSB could potentially result in a decrease of 7·5 ml/capita per d. Their analysis implies that taxation or other methods of shifting relative costs of these beverages could be a way to improve beverage choices in Great Britain.
While applauding the 'heroic analysis' of the UK food purchase and consumption data Winkler observes in his commentary that the 10% tax proposed would lead only to a 4.6% reduction in SSB purchases. In real terms this equates to a less than gram of sugar (or one sip from a 2 litre bottle).
Moreover the nature of consumer behaviour, where consumers regularly pay 950% extra for a well-known brand over a value brand, a 10% tax will have little effect. Crucially, the soft drink market is complex and the nature of supermarket deals plus variations in price between locations and outlets renders the 10% increase meaningless. Winkler also suggests that popular resistance amongst manufacturers and consumers alike mean that no politicians are likely to adopt the 10% tax idea anyway.
Importantly the Ng report does not clarify an opinion on the related issues of fruit juices and sweeteners. The leading brand of Unsweetened apple juice contains more sugar than the leading cola brand, and nothing is suggested about this problem. Winkler remarks "Anyone serious in sugar evading cannot avoid this issue".
Winkler suggests that by not discussing 'Sweeteners' and the increase in consumption of sugarfree beverages, nutritionists are neglecting an important aspect of potential nutritional policy. Manufacturers effectively charge a premium for sugarfree products even though they cost less than SSB's to produce. A tax exemption on sweeteners is one instrument to invert this trend, and is a viable consideration when looking at ways to reduce sugar consumption.
Winkler concludes that not only is a tax on SSBs not likely to be adopted but even it was it would be ineffective but the Ng report does open up a lot of questions for Nutrition Policy makers:
'First, what are we seeking to do, change people or change foods? Second, the issue contrasts principled and pragmatic strategies. Should we, as a matter of principle, seek to switch people to healthy diets directly and quickly?. Finally, price instruments can punish the bad, reward the good, or both.' In short: 'Make the healthy choice the cheaper choice'
More information: Why soft drink taxes will not work, J.T. Winkler. British Journal of Nutrition / Volume 108 / Issue 03 journals.cambridge… 114511006477
Patterns and trends of beverage consumption among children and adults in Great Britain, 1986-2009 Shu Wen Ng, et al. British Journal of Nutrition / Volume 108 / Issue 03 journals.cambridge… 114511006465
Provided by Cambridge University Press
- Taxing sugar-sweetened beverages could yield sweet results May 13, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Eliminating soda from school diets does not affect overall consumption Nov 10, 2008 | not rated yet | 0
- Banning sugar-sweetened beverages in schools does not reduce consumption: study Nov 07, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Can soda tax curb obesity? Jun 28, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Fight obesity? Add sales tax to soda tab Sep 16, 2009 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras
Apr 15, 2011 I'd like to open a discussion thread for version 2 of the draft of my book ''Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras'', available online at http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/0810.1019 , and for the...
- More from Physics Forums - Independent Research
More news stories
The individualisation of drug treatments to support patients to self-manage their conditions is a concept that sits at the heart of policy, but a recent study in BMJ Open shows that there is no concrete defini ...
Health 1 hour ago | not rated yet | 0
Fun in the summer often means kids spending time in the water, whether at a pool, the beach, a lake or river. A pediatric safety expert at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) stresses proper training ...
Health 1 hour ago | not rated yet | 0
A new way of interpreting information from a low-tech, age-old method used in pregnancy care is expected to more accurately identify potential health issues for mothers and babies.
Health 2 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Artemio Martinez balanced his corpulent frame on a stool in a Mexico City street taco stand, downing a sweet soda and eating a final pork-filled corn tortilla.
Health 4 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
People eating at fast food restaurants largely underestimate the calorie content of meals, especially large ones, according to a paper published today in BMJ.
Health 15 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Researchers from London's Kingston University have begun a two-year study which could help prolong the lives of people with colorectal tumours.
1 hour ago | not rated yet | 0
New research presented today shows that formation of new neurons in the hippocampus - a brain region known for its importance in learning and remembering - could cause forgetting of old memories by causing a reorganization ...
53 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
Ernie Pyle – an iconic war correspondent in World War II – reportedly said "There are no atheists in foxholes." A new joint study between two brothers at Cornell and Virginia Wesleyan found that only ...
56 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
Saudi Arabia said Friday it would send samples taken from animals possibly infected with a deadly SARS-like virus to the United States for testing in a bid to find the source of disease.
33 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
(Medical Xpress)—A new study by researchers in the US has shown that an ancient virus can be modified to help in the fight against the simian immunodeficiency virus SIV, which is the equivalent in monkeys ...
1 hour ago | not rated yet | 0 |