Imposing sugar tax on soft drinks and other sugary drinks can potentially improve health of thousands of adults and children by reducing rates of obesity, diabetes and tooth decay, suggests a new study.
The findings, published in the Lancet Public Health journal, revealed that passing on half of the cost of the levy to consumers, leading to a 20 percent increase in the price of high and mid-sugar drinks, was predicted to reduce the number of obese adults and children by 81,600, cases of diabetes by 10,800, and decaying teeth by 149,000. "Children stand to benefit the most, so this study is a clarion call to industry to fulfill their moral obligations to promote child wellbeing," a Indian-origin professor Neena Modi from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.
"We also reiterate the importance of evaluating the true impact of the sugar tax, once it is introduced, so that the UK can provide much needed evidence to other countries that are considering emulating this potentially powerful public health intervention," Modi added. Researchers modelled three ways that the soft drinks industry might respond to the levy -- reducing the sugar content of drinks, raising the price of sugary drinks and encouraging customers to switch to drinks containing less sugar.
"The good news is that our study suggests that all of the most likely industry responses to the tax including reducing sugar content of soft drinks, raising prices of high-sugar drinks and increasing the market share of low-sugar drinks have the potential to improve health by reducing rates of obesity, diabetes and tooth decay," said lead study author Dr. Adam Briggs from Oxford University.
"We must therefore be vigilant to ensure the food industry acts to remove sugar from soft drinks and that where the tax is passed on to consumers it increases the price of targeted products only - drinks with high levels of sugar," Briggs concluded.