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Experts have suggested that a tax on sugary snacks could be ‘more effective’ than the Soft Drinks Industry Levy.
Researchers compiling evidence for the British Medical Journal (BMJ) have suggested that a 20% ‘snack tax’ would have a ‘huge impact’ on obesity levels in the UK.
According to the BMJ, taxing high sugar snacks such as biscuits, cakes and sweets may be more effective at reducing obesity levels than increasing the price of sugary drinks.
The Soft Drinks Industry Levy came into effect from April 2018, and represents one part of the government’s plan to tackle childhood obesity. As part of the Levy, traders pay one of two rates: either the ‘standard rate’ of 18p per litre, which applies to drinks with sugar content between five grams and up to (but not including) eight grams per 100ml, or the ‘higher rate’ of 24p per litre, which applies to drinks with sugar content equal to or greater than eight grams per 100ml.
The BMJ suggested that increasing the price of sugary snacks by 20% would ‘reduce annual average energy intake by around 8,900 calories’.
Earlier this year government figures showed that more than £340m had been raised by the levy, with the proceeds going towards supporting healthy breakfast clubs and sports in schools. However, when campaigning to become leader of the Conservative party, Prime Minister Boris Johnston indicated that he would consider a review of the levy because of the disproportionate impact on lower income families.
Researchers also argue that fiscal policies aimed at reducing sugar, salt, and saturated fat intake ‘might be useful, but they fail to incentivise the consumption of healthy foods.’
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