Taxing sugar

Should We Be Taxing Sugar?

We´re witnessing the biggest obesity epidemic ever recorded in history. The occurrence of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and other chronic conditions is increasing at an alarming rate, and experts are unanimously pointing fingers at our calorie-rich diets. Is it finally time to consider putting a tax on sugar?

Sales of sweets and sugary drinks have risen dramatically in the last decades, mainly due to  the globalization of business and overall higher accessibility of food products. This unfortunately spells bad news for our health and our children’s health as they represent the biggest consumer group. One third of kids in the US are obese or overweight and type II diabetes is no longer just a disease of the elderly.

Apart from the obvious health concerns, obesity also represents an enormous burden for our healthcare economy, with current annual global obesity-related costs being estimated at a whopping $2 trillion or 2.8% of global GDP. Since educating folks about proper nutrition and lifestyle choices is obviously not doing the job, world leaders are considering a slightly more dictatorial tactic – taxing sugar.

The idea might seem extreme, but we do tend to tax things that aren´t good for us for the sake of our health, while earning the economy an extra buck. A scientific meta-analysis investigating the effects of a potential tax on sweetened beverages suggests it could indeed result in a decrease in overall BMI and obesity.

So far only France, Mexico and very recently the UK imposed the controversial tax, but others are likely to follow. While Mexico´s soft drink sales have dropped by roughly 12% (milk and water jumped by the same margin), France is showing mixed results. Guess it´s one of those things where we´ll just have to wait and see.

What´s your stance on taxing sugar? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Check out what the spokesman for the tax – Jamie Oliver has to say about it in the video bellow.

 

By Luka Zupančič, MSc, University of Applied Sciences Technikum Vienna

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