Sugar tax - a good idea or nanny state nonsense

Well, after alleged attempts by politicians to bury it, the long-awaited report on reducing sugar consumption in the UK by Public Health England has finally been made public. (

It makes eight recommendations in total - though the one that has caught the media's attention is recommendation five: "Introduction of a price increase of a minimum of 10-20% on high sugar products through the use of a tax or levy such as on full sugar soft drinks, based on the emerging evidence of the impact of such measures in other countries"

So would a sugar tax be a progressive policy that could nudge people into adopting healthy behaviours or an extra burden on people already suffering in austerity Britain?

I do find it disturbing that, if reports are right, David Cameron has dismissed the findings of the report without actually bothering to read it - it's only 48 pages long. So much for evidence-based politics

14 Replies

  • Thanks for that, however there seems to be a problem with the link.

  • remove the ')' after the word pdf and you get the page

  • I would definitely be for a sugar tax. People are still smoking even their vice is taxed heavily - the revenue goes someway to offsetting the cost of treating any smoking related illnesses, but it has also dissuaded a lot of people - the tax educates at the same time. This clearly needs to be done with sugar as people just ignore the warnings in the media. The media isn't trustworthy so why believe them. Mind you the government isn't either!! People listen to what's in their pockets/bank accounts and how it disappears.

  • I occasionally like sweets and chocolate. So I am against the sugar tax because it would affect what I like and only occasionally buy.

    Warning Labelling on the supermarket isles would be better.

  • I rather like the teaspoon idea saying how many teaspoons of sugar are in the product. On the other hand I always cook from scratch so I never have any food with nutrition information on anyway and I have cut out simple carbs as I am steroids, so perhaps it would be a bit of a waste of time in my case.

  • johnsmith

    How much do you think it would add to your spend on sweets and chocolate each time? I think they are proposing a 10 to 20% tax.

    Supermarkets do generally clearly mark the high sugar items which could be considered a warning. They lovingly place them near the checkouts and elsewhere attach brightly marked "on offer" signs - when was the last time you saw a two for one on bananas?

  • I run a very tight budget as I am on ESA. Every penny counts. So the sugar tax although not much will have a small effect.

    Many people who are out of work and survive on benefits would be effected.

    A sugar tax on certain items like microwave food will get lost unless it is clearly labelled on the food. The manufacturer who creates the packaging will try and disguise things that puts consumers off.

    I like piglette's idea of how teaspoons of sugar the item contains.

  • Whenever the food industry makes changes they tend not to be what we might expect or want. For fat reduction we got all sorts of gums and other substances instead of the fat. Will we now see ever increasing levels of artificial sweeteners? Could we even see foods get sweeter than they are now? I already find many breads too sweet to enjoy.

    With my paranoid hat on, could we even find the hands of the artificial sweetener makers pushing this tax forward?

  • Apologies for the dodgy link - this should work

    Plus we now have the BTH analysis up

  • Your last comment is the most telling Gez_Blair; who is advising the PM? Whilst mainstream healthy eating remains focussed on the empty calories of sugar, it is far more sinister

    Today the news highlighted that the WHO has put processed meat on a list of carcinogens. How can the processing/additives be passed as safe, then the product declared a carcinogen?

    Most baffling, sugar hasn't even been considered, never mind appearing on the list?

  • Unfortunately the issue is problematic.

    Some things in certain foods are probably carcinogenic. However, you will have to eat a lot of it and small amounts will probably be safe.

    The alternative is to eat some processed meat which has not been treated with preservative and so is laden with bacteria which will kill you or make you very ill very quickly.

    So the choice is eat this preservative food for 70 years and get cancer or eat this food with no preservative and die from food poisoning within the following week.

    Take your pick. I know what my choice is.

  • Today's Guardian has good article about Mexico's sugar tax as well as the industry's attempt to stop it

  • It is a good article - and has a lot of comments.

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