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Soda Taxes And Small Candy Bars: Two Countries Fight Sugar

The U.K. and Canada released reports last month detailing efforts to reduce sugar consumption in their respective countries, with two different approaches.

sugar

Photo: Melissa Wiese (Flickr)

A 20 percent levy on sugary drink manufacturers in Canada would, over the next 25 years, save 13,000 lives, prevent 600,000 cases of obesity, and up to 200,000 cases of type 2 diabetes.

Two more countries are joining the fight against sugar.

The U.K. and Canada released reports last month detailing efforts to reduce sugar in their respective countries, with two very different approaches.

Smaller Candy Bars In The U.K.

British government agency Public Health England’s latest report, “Sugar Reduction: Achieving the 20%,” calls for food and beverage industries to reduce the amount of sugar in their products by 20 percent by 2020, with a particular focus on products consumed by children.

It’s a unique approach to public health, and one that PHE says is necessary for health equity. Dr. Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE, says children from deprived backgrounds are more likely to be affected by obesity.

“If businesses achieve these guidelines, 200,000 tons of sugar could be removed from the U.K. market per year by 2020,” Tedstone told the BBC.

Food in nine different categories will have recommended sugar limits, including cakes, biscuits, chocolate and sweets, ice cream, puddings, yogurts, breakfast goods, and sweet spreads.

So far, the agreement is voluntary leaving many to worry that there is no way to enforce food manufacturer and restaurant compliance.

“We’ve seen over recent weeks that some companies within the food and drink industry have made great progress whilst others are seriously lagging behind and others claiming wrongly that they can’t do it,” said Graham MacGregor, a professor of cardiovascular medicine and chairman of the campaigning group Action on Sugar.

“If these recalcitrant companies don’t comply we need Theresa May to bring in tough measures to ensure compliance and put public health first before the profits of the food industry.”

Soda Tax In Canada

Meanwhile, Canada wants to take a more tried-and-true approach – a tax on sugary drinks.

It’s the same strategy many other countries have implemented, including Mexico, France, Hungary, and more recently, several cities in the U.S., with great preliminary results.

New research from the University of Waterloo, commissioned by Canadian health organizations, shows a levy on sugary drink companies would reduce death, disability, and healthcare costs.

The report says that in 2015, Canadians purchased an average of 444 ml (15 oz) of sugary drinks a day. If those rates stay the same, the research predicts more than $50 billion in health care costs over the next 25 years. A 20 percent levy on sugary drink manufacturers would, over the next 25 years, save 13,000 lives, prevent 600,000 cases of obesity, and up to 200,000 cases of type 2 diabetes.

The levy would also raise $11.5 billion in healthcare savings and $43.6 billion in government revenue, which would support subsidies for produce, physical activity initiatives, and other health education activities.

Read More:

  • Cut sugar in cakes, chocolate by 20%, industry told (BBC)
  • Will Bill Morneau save 13,000 lives with a levy on sugary drinks? (The Globe and Mail)
  • Chocolate bars may shrink in drive to tackle obesity (The Guardian)
Taylor Killough

Taylor Killough has degrees anthropology and journalism. She has worked with the oral history project StoryCorps. A nomad at heart, she recently returned to Louisville, Kentucky, where's she's excited to have her own kitchen and garden again.

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