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  #1   ^
Old Sat, Mar-13-21, 06:26
Demi's Avatar
Demi Demi is offline
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Default UK’s sugar tax hits the sweet spot

Quote:
UK’s sugar tax hits the sweet spot

Consumption of sugar from soft drinks falls within a year


Excess consumption of free sugars is a major contributor to diet related diseases, including tooth decay, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease.1 Sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs) provide a substantial source of free sugars in the global diet yet offer no nutritional benefit, making them a reasonable target for public health action.234 The World Health Organization recommends that governments implement taxes on SSBs as part of a comprehensive policy response,5 and around 50 jurisdictions worldwide do so.6

The UK soft drinks industry levy was at the forefront of progressive policy design when announced in 2016. Targeted at manufacturers, its tiered structure imposes higher taxation on products with higher sugar content, providing motivation to reformulate to reduce sugar levels.

Now fresh evidence shows it is working exactly as intended.7 In a linked paper, Pell and colleagues(doi:10.1136/bmj.n254) report a reduction in sugar purchased in soft drinks one year after implementation of the levy, but no overall change in the total volume of drinks sold. They consider this a “win-win”: consumers are buying less sugar, while industry’s bottom line remains largely unscathed.

These findings offer lessons for other countries exploring strategic regulatory options to promote healthier diets.

The first is compelling yet unsurprising: embedding profit motives in regulation is an effective way to shift the behaviour of profit driven enterprises. Here, the benefits of the levy’s legislative approach are most clear. Beyond the decrease in sales and consumption of drinks experienced in other jurisdictions with SSB taxes,8 the levy has catalysed widespread reformulation with potential benefits to population health, even without reliance on consumer behaviour change. Compare the progress made by a mandatory industry levy, for example, to Public Health England’s concurrent attempts to get food companies to cut salt and sugar in other products voluntarily—which have largely failed.9

The UK is not alone in maintaining these “softer” forms of engagement with industry, despite well known limitations.10 In Australia, for example, an SSB tax has been sidelined by a voluntary industry pledge to reduce sugar sold in beverages by 20% over a decade.11 Its terms are vague, lack full market coverage, and will not be subject to independent evaluation. There appears no good reason why Australians should wait a decade for benefits that the soft drinks industry levy demonstrates can occur in a much shorter timeframe.712

Secondly, in highlighting industry’s steady sales as a valuable benefit, Pell and colleagues provide insight into the costs and benefits associated with public health taxes. Their findings might bolster the political confidence of leaders implementing similar taxes, despite vocal opposition from industry, but should not be a prerequisite for policy action.

Policy makers might be legitimately less concerned with the impact of SSB taxes on industry profits and more concerned with harnessing taxation to distribute further wins among less powerful stakeholders. As with other jurisdictions that tax SSBs, the UK government has generated significant new revenue from its industry levy—at least £576m ($801m; €660m) by June 202013—pledged towards programmes to improve children’s health.14 Elsewhere, countries such as the Philippines have used ring fenced taxes on unhealthy products to fund health services for the poorest and most vulnerable people.15 In efforts to promote healthier diets, there is potential to pair taxes on unhealthy products with subsidies for healthier ones such as fruit and vegetables (also a WHO recommended policy5), to multiply these wins.

Thirdly, although outcomes produced by the current levy are already promising, there is opportunity to strengthen regulation further. One way is to include thresholds for taxation that lower progressively over time to encourage ongoing sugar reduction.16 Another is to periodically review the scope of sugar reduction policies—for example, to consider whether milk based drinks and fruit juices, which can contain high levels of free sugars, should also be taxed.

It might also be prudent to monitor the impact of SSB taxes on use of non-nutritive sweeteners, and to introduce regulatory incentives that discourage their proliferation. Mexico’s new front-of-pack label is a regulatory trailblazer in this respect, requiring products that contain non-nutritive sweeteners to bear a stop sign warning that consumption is not recommended for children.17

Finally, as the world moves towards policies that promote healthier and more sustainable diets, the challenge is to design regulations that improve nutritional quality and reduce the environmental impact of the foods we eat—considering carbon dioxide emissions, water extraction, and plastic pollution, for example. There is potential here to deliver not only health benefits but also benefits for the planet and all those whose lives depend on it now, and for future generations. Wouldn’t that be the ultimate win-win?


https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n463
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  #2   ^
Old Sat, Mar-13-21, 10:41
WereBear's Avatar
WereBear WereBear is offline
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Plan: Epi-Paleo/IF
Stats: 220/123/150 Female 67
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I'm so glad I was never a fan of soda, or any sweet drinks, really. I do love lemonade in the summer, but I make it very tart and using certain sweeteners
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  #3   ^
Old Sat, Mar-13-21, 13:16
wbahn's Avatar
wbahn wbahn is online now
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Plan: Atkins-ish, post-WLS
Stats: 324/279/174 Male 72 inches
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Default

I'm not a fan of taxation to influence behavior, whether or not it's behavior changes that I think are good or bad. The government has way too heavy a hand in our lives as it is.

Plus, they almost always do things in a ham-fisted way; when they removed "sugary drinks" from the sales tax exemption for food here, they removed it for ALL soft drinks, including diet soft drinks that don't have a milligram of sugar.
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  #4   ^
Old Sat, Mar-13-21, 22:05
GRB5111's Avatar
GRB5111 GRB5111 is offline
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Plan: Very LC, Higher Protein
Stats: 227/186/185 Male 6' 0"
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Location: Herndon, VA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wbahn
I'm not a fan of taxation to influence behavior, whether or not it's behavior changes that I think are good or bad. The government has way too heavy a hand in our lives as it is.

Plus, they almost always do things in a ham-fisted way; when they removed "sugary drinks" from the sales tax exemption for food here, they removed it for ALL soft drinks, including diet soft drinks that don't have a milligram of sugar.

Agreed. It's a regressive way to shape behavior, and often, the government is wrong.
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  #5   ^
Old Sun, Mar-14-21, 07:39
WereBear's Avatar
WereBear WereBear is offline
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Plan: Epi-Paleo/IF
Stats: 220/123/150 Female 67
BF:
Progress: 139%
Location: USA
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by wbahn
The government has way too heavy a hand in our lives as it is.


This is unavoidable. Much like we could dispense with the police and courts... if we still lived in small groups where the penalty for being an outright free-riding dipwick was exile.

But we don't.

Smoking is an example of how it was done right in America. (Which has a huge and deserved reputation for "doin' it rong" no question) but a combo of taxation, restrictions on the ability to impose one's dangerous habit on others, and public education dropped the usage of this highly addictive substance in a way I can't see happening any other way.

I'm reminded of how I was standing in line at a deli, and some FREEDUMB jerk was spouting off, "Look at the sign that you have to be 18 to operate a slicer, stupid roooooles" kind of thing.

I quietly pointed out that every regulation is written in blood. He shut up.

I seem to remember that, pre-internet, it took thirty years to get new medical discoveries into common practice in patients. From lags in education to companies making money to outright medical fraud by career-minded doctors and scientists. The entire history of breast cancer is littered with wrong assumptions that took much too long to be recognized.

Now, things are better: we are all proof of that. But public access to information only works for people who are willing to make their own assumptions about who is an authority.

In addition, we are people moved by data. That's not common, either. Back in the day, "everyone knew" cigarettes would kill you. But few did anything about it until immediate consequences started happening, like higher prices, enforced smoking sections, and public scorn.

Laws and regulations are inevitable. All we can do is try and make them good ones. And strive to make that bulldozer of a fake, Dr. Ancel Keys, something that can't happen again.
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  #6   ^
Old Sun, Mar-14-21, 09:46
GRB5111's Avatar
GRB5111 GRB5111 is offline
Posts: 3,635
 
Plan: Very LC, Higher Protein
Stats: 227/186/185 Male 6' 0"
BF:
Progress: 98%
Location: Herndon, VA
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by WereBear
This is unavoidable. Much like we could dispense with the police and courts... if we still lived in small groups where the penalty for being an outright free-riding dipwick was exile.

But we don't.

Smoking is an example of how it was done right in America. (Which has a huge and deserved reputation for "doin' it rong" no question) but a combo of taxation, restrictions on the ability to impose one's dangerous habit on others, and public education dropped the usage of this highly addictive substance in a way I can't see happening any other way.

I'm reminded of how I was standing in line at a deli, and some FREEDUMB jerk was spouting off, "Look at the sign that you have to be 18 to operate a slicer, stupid roooooles" kind of thing.

I quietly pointed out that every regulation is written in blood. He shut up.

I seem to remember that, pre-internet, it took thirty years to get new medical discoveries into common practice in patients. From lags in education to companies making money to outright medical fraud by career-minded doctors and scientists. The entire history of breast cancer is littered with wrong assumptions that took much too long to be recognized.

Now, things are better: we are all proof of that. But public access to information only works for people who are willing to make their own assumptions about who is an authority.

In addition, we are people moved by data. That's not common, either. Back in the day, "everyone knew" cigarettes would kill you. But few did anything about it until immediate consequences started happening, like higher prices, enforced smoking sections, and public scorn.

Laws and regulations are inevitable. All we can do is try and make them good ones. And strive to make that bulldozer of a fake, Dr. Ancel Keys, something that can't happen again.

Respectfully, I disagree with certain points. This is a complex topic where when discussed in this forum, we'll have to work to deftly avoid politics. This is a complex topic with economic ramifications and the influence of demand elasticity as well. I don't want to go there.

In regards to tobacco tax. Growing up in the 50s and 60s, I remember this well. The short version is that when tobacco in the form of cigarettes was confirmed to cause cancer, that's when people, with this renewed awareness, started to stop smoking. This was a product that was earlier claimed to be recommended by doctors for health issues. The taxes came after, but it was the prospect of lung diseases such as emphysema and cancer that got peoples' attention. It was big news when research by the medical community confirmed this, and people responded. Yes, many felt the product was unhealthy before this confirmation. People were addicted and it would take the prospect of an early death to force action.

The dynamics of taxes are nuanced. Take alcohol for example. It is heavily taxed; yet, it is consumed and very popular today, a big business despite its health risks. Drink responsibly is the mantra, and many do. The demand elasticity for tobacco and alcohol, however, for those dependent on the substances indicates that these folks are very price insensitive. They'll pay the price to get what they want. Taxes are ineffective for the very people who are being targeted to discourage consumption.

Fast forward to taxes levied on food. How do we know what to tax? Who truly knows which foods are healthy? Should meat be taxed? Based on contentions by the WHO and many nutrition "experts," meat is a cancer risk. This information has been picked up by the media and repeated incessantly over the past several years. There are many who have an agenda to eliminate meat consumption, and it has nothing to do with human health.

What about fat? Should fat be taxed? There are some who feel saturated fat is very unhealthy and consumption should be discouraged. Who is right based on what information?

Then we come to the food subsidies very active in the U.S. How much is the cost of sugar production subsidized? What about wheat? Corn? What about the production of seed oils manufactured into soy, canola, corn, and other vegetable oils? We have an agricultural model that applies subsidies that distort the prices paid by consumers. Unhealthy, processed food is inexpensive, and it makes sense that it's consumed by many who like paying little and opening a wrapper for preparation.

So, while I am all for teaching people how to eat, I am against forcing people to eat by economic punishment. Today, we have neither the confirmed studies that clearly identify which foods are healthy nor the means to establish a food model that supports raising and growing healthy foods affordable by all. If the "knee jerk" reaction of some in politics is to simply discourage food types by making them too expensive continues, I'm fearful of where this will bring us over the next few years.

For me personally, I eat meat as a primary part of my food choices made to live a healthy life. I don't often buy grass fed meat, as it's usually too expensive and recent information ("Sacred Cow") has confirmed that there is little difference nutritionally between meat and grass-fed meat. However, once the food tax door has opened, I can see this action extending to a tax on meat, as the "unhealthy meat" drumbeat is increasing. Be careful, as you may get what you really didn't want as this action gets extended to things you feel are a core of your healthy lifestyle. One only needs to be reminded of the Food Pyramid as the epitome of unintended consequences. We are still paying that steep price today.
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  #7   ^
Old Mon, Mar-15-21, 04:57
WereBear's Avatar
WereBear WereBear is offline
Posts: 13,267
 
Plan: Epi-Paleo/IF
Stats: 220/123/150 Female 67
BF:
Progress: 139%
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GRB5111
Respectfully, I disagree with certain points. This is a complex topic where when discussed in this forum, we'll have to work to deftly avoid politics. This is a complex topic with economic ramifications and the influence of demand elasticity as well.


All that said, and I agree: I was not in favor of any kind of taxes on foods.

But then we get into: what is food? Which is a bizarre but real danger.

And I am certainly against subsidizing manufacturers of dangerous food substances. Which includes the wave of vegan products which is actually crowding real food from grocery shelves

The last time I went to the store I saw PLANT-BASED stamped on everything. Bad enough these products are taking up space that used to be occupied by actual meat. Now I see it in half the soups, crowding the pre-packaged lunch meat, and even in the jerky section.

THIS is not by choice, either. There isn't any overwhelming demand. This is market takeover because they make more money with fake food.

That is what worries me more, and it extends beyond taxation.
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  #8   ^
Old Mon, Mar-15-21, 09:28
GRB5111's Avatar
GRB5111 GRB5111 is offline
Posts: 3,635
 
Plan: Very LC, Higher Protein
Stats: 227/186/185 Male 6' 0"
BF:
Progress: 98%
Location: Herndon, VA
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by WereBear
All that said, and I agree: I was not in favor of any kind of taxes on foods.

But then we get into: what is food? Which is a bizarre but real danger.

And I am certainly against subsidizing manufacturers of dangerous food substances. Which includes the wave of vegan products which is actually crowding real food from grocery shelves

The last time I went to the store I saw PLANT-BASED stamped on everything. Bad enough these products are taking up space that used to be occupied by actual meat. Now I see it in half the soups, crowding the pre-packaged lunch meat, and even in the jerky section.

THIS is not by choice, either. There isn't any overwhelming demand. This is market takeover because they make more money with fake food.

That is what worries me more, and it extends beyond taxation.

Yes, exactly, me too. That's the price distortion that is causing people to buy foods lacking nutrition that tout them as "heart healthy" or "fiber rich" or "barbecue, cool ranch" or some other trigger word engineered to capture attention and create a transaction. It's the reverse tax, as it encourages consumption due to price alone initially, then the engineered food becomes part of the diet due to flavors developed to keep them coming back for more. It's a distortion meant to influence purchase with nothing to do with nutrition or health. If we could simply overcome the agendas and inform people what is healthy and why and eliminate these distortion tactics, there might be a chance to overcome all of this craziness. That's the difficult part, especially in the absence of a consensus on good nutrition.
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  #9   ^
Old Mon, Mar-15-21, 10:33
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deirdra deirdra is offline
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Plan: HF/vLC/GF,CF,SF
Stats: 197/136/150 Female 66 inches
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Location: Alberta
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Rather than a sugar tax, remove subsidies.
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