In case you didn’t know, a huge leap was made last week in the battle against obesity. The sugar tax. Well I say a huge leap, it’s actually not that big but the government have of course made it seem like they have just solved the nation’s weight problem.
The sugar tax may sound pretty self explanatory but does this mean we, the people, are going to be taxed or that the companies will be? Allow me to explain.
Fizzy drinks companies will be given two years (yes two looong years) to cut down the amount of sugar in their drinks. Then if their drinks still contain either more than 5g of sugar per 100ml or 8g, they will be taxed in one of two bands. Producers would be hit with an 18p and 24p levy per litre respectively if their drinks are in one of these bands. The problem with that is they won’t be the ones suffering from the new tax, which I’m sure was the whole point. If they are forced to pay tax on their products they will inevitably raise the cost of the drink itself. For example, as ITV news explains, if the amount of sugar in a 1.75 litre bottle isn’t reduced it would be subject to a 42p levy which means it is likely that this cost would be added onto the price that consumers would have to pay. Surely that’s not fair?
The only positive there is that hopefully some people would refuse to pay that bit more for a fizzy drink and they’ll become healthier as a result. But that’s unlikely. There’s already justified concern, that I agree with, that if people decide not to buy fizzy drinks in order to avoid paying more they are likely to buy a sweet snack instead to make up for it. Sugar is an addiction. That means many will probably swap a can of coke for a chocolate bar or a piece of cake, so all in all the obesity crisis is far from solved by the sugar tax.
As expected the government are clearly in denial about how to fix the nation’s obesity problem, because a lot of people are already realising that adding a few extra pence to the cost of a can isn’t going to solve anything. It could just make the nation even fatter. As the most obese nation in Europe that’s the last thing we need.