Sugar Tax is Not the Answer

Dear Jamie,

Sugar tax is not the answer. While you have been at the forefront of some fantastic food campaigns over the years and you have, unlike many others in your position, used your power for good – to encourage and educate people into healthy eating, here I’m afraid, your sugar tax idea is simply a government pleasing mishap.

Because sugar tax is not the answer to obesity and upping the cost of a can of coke by 20% will simply line the governments pockets, it will not educate or help anyone to eat healthier, in fact it might mean that people eat less healthily as they sacrifice that expensive fruit and veg, which, doesn’t last as long or go as far, for that over priced sugar fix.

See the hard truth is eating healthily is expensive and complicated. We are bombarded with conflicting information, misleading advertising on the ‘healthy option’ and juice brands are at it too (think of the fructose) and that is before you realise that for the price of an avocado you can get an actual meal at a fast food joint. Basically unless you spend a long time researching and learning about food and nutrition you have to decipher the waffle peddled by the government, diets and women’s magazines to work out what works for you.

No one really wants to be unhealthy but the sugar tax equally ignores all of the other elements that contribute to a healthy lifestyle. Sure cutting down on refined sugar is a good thing but what about increasing the access to fruit and veg and getting people moving. You can be as green as you like but if you aren’t moving enough your overall health and fitness is still missing a vital piece.

Sugar is an addictive substance, the highs and lows it produces are pretty scary and for many the kick and the emotional crutch it provides is not going to be easily kicked by a price hike – which will only truly effect lower socio economic groups, affluent purchasers will be relatively unaffected by a 20% rise.

More importantly it seems to be unclear as to where the cash is going? The tax should be used to subsidise the price of fruit and veg and give better access to sports and fitness facilities, as well as reintroducing and supporting home economics in schools. Trying to tax our way out of this issue without going back to the root cause and dealing with availability and access to a healthier way of life is naive and ensures this money making scheme is due to fail.

Oh and for those yelling ‘BUT WHAT ABOUT THE NHS’… Take a peak at this forecast…

“The UK’s Children’s Food Campaign recently claimed that a 20 per cent tax on sugary drinks would reduce healthcare costs in London by £39 million over twenty years, but their own figures suggest that the tax itself will relieve Londoners of £2.6 billion over the same period.[14] The cost of the tax will therefore exceed the savings by several orders of magnitude.”


-- Editor-in-Chief SLiNK Magazine