- Published: Wednesday, 31 March 2021 08:03
- Written by Chris Tapper
- Hits: 615
The UK’s Soft Drinks Industry Levy appears to be working.
The amount of sugar purchased by households through soft drinks fell by 10% in the year following the introduction of the levy.
A team led by researchers from CEDAR, Cambridge University’s Centre for Diet and Activity Research, found that although the volume of soft drinks purchased did not change, the amount of sugar in those drinks was 30g lower, per household, per week.
The researchers said the finding represents a ‘win-win’ for public health and industry.
The University of Cambridge website said “Sugary drinks have been linked to a number of health issues, including dental caries, obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. In April 2018, the UK introduced a Soft Drinks Industry Levy explicitly designed to incentivise manufacturers to reduce the sugar content of soft drinks.”
“The levy was placed on manufacturers, importers and bottlers rather than on consumers. It included two levy tiers: 24p per litre for ‘high tier’ drinks containing more than or equal to 8g total sugar per 100ml; and 18p per litre for ‘low tier’ drinks containing more than or equal to 5g and less than 8g total sugar per 100ml.”
A team led by researchers from CEDAR analysed data from the Kantar Worldpanel, in which participating households are asked to record all food and drink purchases brought into the home. This included approximately 31 million purchases of drinks, confectionery and toiletries from March 2014 to March 2019.
“The researchers compared purchases in March 2019 against a ‘counterfactual’ estimate – that is, an estimate based on pre-existing trends of how the purchases would look had the levy not taken place at all. This is the first analysis of the impact of the UK Soft Drinks Industry Levy on drink purchases that takes pre-existing trends into account. The results of the study, funded by the NIHR, are published in The BMJ.”
Professor Martin White, the project lead, said “The Soft Drinks Industry Levy appears to have led to a reduction in the amount of sugar that people are purchasing in soft drinks without impacting on the overall volume of soft drinks sold.”
“It’s likely that this is due to manufacturers reformulating their products and reducing the sugar concentration in their drinks, as well as to consumers switching to lower sugar alternatives.”
“ This represents a valuable win-win for public health and the food industry – potentially improving people’s health with no detrimental effect on the volume of soft drinks that companies are selling.”
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