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  #1   ^
Old Mon, Apr-30-18, 05:15
teaser's Avatar
teaser teaser is offline
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Default tax sweet snacks not tax sweet drinks

Sorry for the misleading thread title. That's the click-bait ScienceDaily used for the story. The real title should be "Taxing sweet snacks may be as effective as taxing sweet beverages."

Quote:
Taxing sweet snacks may bring greater health benefits than taxing sugar-sweetened drinks

Taxing sweet snacks could lead to broader reductions in the amount of sugar purchased than similar increases in the price of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), according to new research published in BMJ Open.

The research team from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford, estimate that adding 10% to the price of chocolate, confectionery, cakes and biscuits may reduce purchases by around 7%. This is a similar outcome to taxing SSBs, where previous research suggests a 10% price rise can reduce purchases by 6-8%.

Crucially, however, the study found that taxing sweet snacks could have knock-on effects on the sales of other food items, reducing the purchase of soft-drinks (by 0.6-0.8%), biscuits and cakes (1.2%), and savoury snacks (1.6%).

This study is an observational analysis and cannot explain why consumers change their purchasing behaviour but, although some uncertainty remains, the researchers say the associations observed suggest that relevant policies and future research should consider a broader range of fiscal measures to improve diet than is currently the case.

Lead author Professor Richard Smith from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine said: "We know that increasing the price of sugar-sweetened beverages is likely to generate a small, but significant, reduction in their purchase. However, there has been little research on the impact that a similar price increase on other sweet foods such as chocolate, confectionery, cakes and biscuits could have on the purchase of sugar. This research suggests that taxing these sweet snacks could bring greater health gains and warrants detailed consideration."

This study, funded by the National Institute for Health Research Policy Research Programme, is the first to provide a direct analysis of the relationship between price increases and consumer demand for snack foods across different income groups.

Household expenditure on food and drink items were classified into 13 different groups and examined in a national representative sample of around 32,000 UK homes. Purchasing was examined overall and then compared across low-income, middle-income and high-income households. The data (from Kantar Worldpanel) covered a two-year period in 2012 and 2013, and provided complete details of each sales transaction, in addition to social and demographic information for each household. To estimate the change in purchasing, the researchers applied a specialised tool for studying consumer demand.

The researchers found that increasing the price of sweet snacks led to a decrease in purchases and may have wider effects on purchasing patterns, which they suggest could potentially bring additional benefits to public health. For example, increasing the price of chocolate snacks was estimated to bring about significant reductions in purchases across most food categories, while a price increase on biscuits showed a potential reduction in the demand for cakes (2.3%) as well as chocolate and confectionary (1.7%).

The potential effects of price increases were greatest in the low-income group. Increasing the price of biscuits was linked to a reduction in the purchase of chocolate and confectionery for the low-income group (3% if price increases by 10%). No such reductions for the high-income group were seen. Increasing the price of chocolate and confectionery was estimated to have a similar effect across all income groups.

Co-author Professor Susan Jebb from the University of Oxford said: "It's impossible to study the direct effects of a tax on snack food on consumer behaviour until such policies are introduced, but these estimates show the likely impact of changes in the price. These snacks are high in sugar but often high in fat too and very energy dense, so their consumption can increase the risk of obesity. This research suggests that extending fiscal policies to include sweet snacks could be an important boost to public health, by reducing purchasing and hence consumption of these foods, particularly in low-income households."

The authors acknowledge limitations of the study including the exclusion of purchases of foods and drink bought and consumed outside of homes (e.g. in restaurants) which they say are likely to be greater among higher income earners.


Quote:
This research suggests that extending fiscal policies to include sweet snacks could be an important boost to public health


The actual researchers (or at least the one quoted) don't see it as which should be taxed, but whether both should be taxed. Even in a silly little thing like this, the press can't help but create contention where there isn't any.

The study conclusions makes things clearer;
Quote:
Although some uncertainty remains, the associations observed in this analysis are sufficiently robust to suggest that policies—and research—concerning the use of fiscal measures to reduce intake of free sugars and improve diet quality should consider extending beyond SSBs to include the more frequently consumed sugar-based snacks including cakes, biscuits and, especially, chocolate and confectionery.




https://www.sciencedaily.com/releas...80427085229.htm
If this is how ScienceDaily handled things, I can't imagine how the Daily Mail will butcher the story.
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  #2   ^
Old Mon, Apr-30-18, 08:41
dcc0455 dcc0455 is offline
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Not trying to start a political discussion, but I have never been a fan of the government using taxes to control behavior. I get that it can be for the good, e.g. reduce smoking, etc., but maybe our next government will be pro-vegan and add prohibitive high taxes on meat.
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  #3   ^
Old Mon, Apr-30-18, 09:24
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GRB5111 GRB5111 is offline
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Plan: Ketogenic (LCHFKD)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dcc0455
Not trying to start a political discussion, but I have never been a fan of the government using taxes to control behavior. I get that it can be for the good, e.g. reduce smoking, etc., but maybe our next government will be pro-vegan and add prohibitive high taxes on meat.

Excellent point.

It would be interesting to do an analysis on whether it was increased taxes or factually distributed information on the fatal dangers of tobacco that turned the tide against tobacco. Like tobacco, sugar and other processed carbs are addictive. Elasticity of demand based on the behaviors of an addict indicate that even with a price increase, an addict may still value and purchase an addictive substance well beyond the point where others may deem the substance too expensive. I believe that the sharing of factual information pointing out the health dangers of sugar and other processed carbs is likely far more effective than having to exert controlled behavior measures by a government. Freedom of choice and free will ultimately form behaviors more effectively than other means, but that outcome must be informed by accurate pros and cons of consumption. There are powerful forces today that are working hard to prevent this information from becoming credible. This is the difficulty of the debate on how to manage this dilemma.
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  #4   ^
Old Mon, Apr-30-18, 09:34
teaser's Avatar
teaser teaser is offline
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Plan: ketosis/IF
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Default

For me it's sort of conflicted, too. I'm not crazy about taxes vs. behaviour. But taxing cigarettes, since there's a cost to society in general to people's smoking sort of makes sense, a similar argument could be made for sugar. Of course a similar argument could be made for fat. Should a rule not be applied because it's possible that it could be misapplied, or should there just be vigilance against the misapplication?

I lean towards thinking that the value of this sort of thing is more towards shifting public attitudes, keeping people thinking about this sort of thing. I don't think most people are just pennies away from not being able to afford a twinkie or a bottle of pop.
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  #5   ^
Old Mon, Apr-30-18, 11:30
Zei Zei is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teaser
I lean towards thinking that the value of this sort of thing is more towards shifting public attitudes, keeping people thinking about this sort of thing. I don't think most people are just pennies away from not being able to afford a twinkie or a bottle of pop.

Agree. I remember some time in the 1970's the price of bagged sugar shot way up. Did Mom stop buying as much or bake less sweets? Nope. Just complained about it more.
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  #6   ^
Old Mon, Apr-30-18, 13:10
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deirdra deirdra is offline
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Also, refined starch is as bad as sugar, but the Feds cannot tell people to eat 5-11 servings of bread and pasta with one hand and tax it with the other.
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  #7   ^
Old Tue, May-01-18, 00:09
Grav Grav is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deirdra
Also, refined starch is as bad as sugar, but the Feds cannot tell people to eat 5-11 servings of bread and pasta with one hand and tax it with the other.

I made this *exact* point to my Health Minister when I met with him back in March. I told him I'd be fine with taxing sugar, but other issues like grain consumption should be addressed at the same time, otherwise they're effectively telling us to eat more glucose in one form, while charging us more to consume the same thing in another form.
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  #8   ^
Old Tue, May-01-18, 03:01
M Levac M Levac is offline
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Default

Tax works when it's prohibitve. It doesn't when it's merely a fraction of the retail price. Tobacco is taxed in multiples of retail price in Canada. It works wonderfully to reduce overall smoking, cuz it's just so damn expensive. ~10% tax is just too weak to have any significant effect on consumption, certainly nowhere near the effect of tobacco tax.

What's the retail price of sugar and sweet stuff? Now multiply that by at least 5. Are you gonna buy it now? Maybe, but you certainly won't buy as much. It's gonna be an actual treat cuz it's just so damn expensive.

Also, in Canada, tobacco tax came with restrictions in public smoking. Smoking is now banned from all public places like restaurants and bars. Imagine a similar restriction where if sugar is added to a food, the product must be prominently marked as candy or some equivalent text, i.e. CONTAINS SUGAR.

Also also, tax doesn't work when production is heavily subsidized to begin with, which it is for sugar and other carbs like wheat and various grains. In this case, elimination of subsidies works even better.

But before any of that happens, we must begin to see sugar and other carbs as not food, but as inedibles or even as drugs, which most of them are. Consider wheat for example. It recently occurred to me that we crave wheat at some point because of its effect on the gut, which if I'm not mistaken is similar to morphine. The craving is in fact withdrawal. After a time of having eliminated wheat from our regular diet, this withdrawal disappears, then normal hunger - not craving - returns with no symptom resembling craving or withdrawal. Consider wheat again, it is in fact inedible in its raw form. Sugar is similiar since it's extracted from the sugar cane, which is primarily fiber, which we can't digest. Never mind HFCS or even plain old corn syrup. Corn goes through intact, we recognize it when we look down as we flush. The level of processing that goes into making refined carbs is, I think, pretty much on par with street drugs, with the exception of canabis of course. Put differently, if it was completely legal to add highly addictive drugs like heroine in food products, that's all we'd see on the shelves. Instead, what we do see on the shelves contains both sugar and wheat in some form or other.

Wheat isn't sugar, so it's a bit of a tangent, but then if we're talking about taxing a food product because of its presumed detrimental effect on our health, that category certainly includes wheat and other grains.
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  #9   ^
Old Tue, May-01-18, 12:42
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jude jude is offline
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Finally some countries have the courage to go after sugar.

From the CBC The National tonight....

Adding a bitter note to sweet drinks. Ireland's Coca Cola lovers -- as well as those who can choke down a can of McDaids Exotic Pineapple -- will have to reach deeper into their pockets today, as the Republic becomes the latest country to impose a tax on sugary drinks.

The new levy adds 20 euro cents a litre to the price of drinks containing between 5 and 8 grams of sugar per 100 millilitres, and 30 cents per litre to beverages with greater amounts of sugar -- like Coke.

The Irish government hopes that the move will help reduce childhood obesity rates. But it will have a sizeable side benefit -- pulling in an estimated €40 million a year in new revenue.

World Health Organization data ranks Irish men as the eighth-heaviest in Europe, with 63.1 per cent classified as overweight or obese, just behind Poland and Romania. Irish women ranked 10th, with 48.5 per cent deemed too heavy, sandwiched between Hungary and Slovenia.

Overall, the WHO says roughly 50 per cent of men and women in Europe are overweight.

Ireland becomes the 30th nation to impose a sugar tax since Mexico blazed a trail in 2014. It joins its EU counterparts France, Finland and Hungary.

The United Kingdom introduced its own similar levy in early April, a measure that is expected to bring in an extra £520 million a year, which the government has pledged to use to fund sports in primary schools.

South Africa and Estonia will soon bring sugar taxes into force. Seven major U.S. cities, including San Francisco, Philadelphia and Seattle have also enacted their own anti-sugar duties.

The Irish Beverage Council, the lobby group that represents soft-drink makers, is unenthusiastic about the change, calling it unnecessary since three-quarters of the sodas sold in the country fall under the 5-gram sugar threshold.

But proponents point to Mexico's experience, where pop consumption dropped 12 per cent in the first year, and Hungary, where manufacturers quickly reduced sugar levels in their drinks by 40 per cent.

The World Health Organization says that the taxes work just the same as tobacco levies, by discouraging consumption.

The are calls for a similar strike against sugary drinks here in Canada, with the Heart and Stroke Foundation estimating that a 20 per cent tax would prevent 449,000 cases of obesity and 7,800 deaths over the next 25 years. It would also bring in $29 billion in tax revenue, and provide a further $16 billion in health care savings.

Other groups, like the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, oppose such measures, calling them ineffective and saying they disproportionately target the poor and encourage cross-border shopping.

Ottawa did look at including a soda tax in the 2016 budget, but backed away.

But even if Ireland's new levy ends up helping the kids, it may not do much for the adults. The country's signature drink, Guinness beer, which contains a whopping 18.6 grams of sugar per pint, is not affected by the tax.
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