What impact will the sugar tax have?
In a surprise move by the Chancellor, sugar tax was unveiled as part of the 2016 Budget. But what does it means for consumers and for the big drinks companies?
Well firstly, the tax does not apply uniformly to all drinks that contain sugar. The purpose of the tax is to place a levy on the most sugary drinks available, typically fizzy drinks. There will not be a tax imposed on pure fruit juice drinks, although these can be some of the biggest offenders. And what’s more, not all producers of sugary fizzy drinks will have the levy applied. Smaller producers will be exempt.
The sugar tax will be applied in a banding structure. The first band will apply a tax on sugary drinks that contain above 5g of sugar per 100ml, and the second band will see an additional levy applied for drinks containing 8g of sugar per 100ml. The Office for Budget Responsibility suggests the levies for the two bands will be applied at 18p and 24p per litre respectively.
It’s expected that the most sugary drinks such as full fat Coca-Cola, Pepsi etc will be subject to the high levy rate, with these products typically containing between 30-40g of sugar per can, which swamps the daily recommended intake of sugar for young people in just one can.
Sugar plays a harmful role in tooth decay. As youngsters, many of us will have seen the test in school whereby a tooth was placed in a sugary drink and then dissolved. The reason that sugar is so dangerous for our teeth is because the bacteria that form on our teeth become plaque and use sugar as energy. This helps to multiply the bacteria and the plaque and that build up on our teeth can cause problems, namely tooth decay. Less sugar in our diets not only helps to contribute to lower obesity levels but to healthier teeth and gums, for which there are links to lower heart disease and a range of associated health problems.
The government has announced that the money raised from the sugar tax will be used to fund sport activities in schools. That’s great. Hopefully the funding will also be used to educate young people about healthy lifestyle choices and the importance of oral health.