Corporate wellness insights

Sugar Tax Spreading Across the Pond

Posted by Matthew on 01.11.2017

sugar taxAs we’ve highlighted in the past, several U.S. cities already tax sugary drinks. And, just this past November, three California cities, Cook County, Illinois (which includes Chicago), and Boulder, Colorado all approved local soda taxes. While the trend certainly seems to be growing in this country, it’s no longer just an American phenomenon.

In fact, it could be argued that our friends across the Atlantic are now taking the lead.

National Sugar Tax in Britain

The U.K. is moving forward with legislation on a national tax on sweetened sodas, or “fizzy drinks.” The tax would begin in April 2018. As in the U.S., health ministers are turning to the soda tax as a weapon to combat child obesity. According to this BBC.com article, at the start of primary school (age 5), 10% of students are obese. By the end (age 11), that percentage doubles.

If you consider students who are just overweight, those figures rise to one in five and one in three, respectively.

TV chef Jamie Oliver has been a staunch supporter of the sugar tax movement. He initiated a sugar tax in his restaurants and started an online petition on which more than 150,000 people expressed support for a sugar tax.

Saying it’s important for the its agency to lead by example, the head of the British National Health Service said the NHS will impose its own 20% tax on sugary drinks and food at all cafes in all hospitals and clinics, beginning in 2020.

Revenue to Combat Child Obesity

The revenue raised by the new U.K. national tax—an estimated $634 million—is being earmarked for development and support of school sports programs. Research there shows that half of 7-year-olds do not get enough exercise.

What do you think of a national soda tax here in the U.S.? Would voters approve? What alternatives would you propose to fight child obesity on a national level?