Commenting on recent speculation that a tax on sugary drinks is being reconsidered by Ministers, Christopher Snowdon, Head of Lifestyle Economics at the Institute of Economic Affairs, said:
“Putting a tax on sugary drinks won’t make us thinner, it will make us poorer. Aside from the tax being regressive and clobbering the poor, there is scant evidence such a measure has reduced obesity anywhere in the world. In Denmark a disastrous fat tax was quickly repealed after living costs increased and obesity levels were largely unchanged, whilst in Mexico a sugary drinks levy has reduced average calorie intake by just 6 calories per day.”
“The justification for government taxing sugar doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Not only is the link between sugar consumption and health problems such as obesity weak, but the belief that the market falls short when it comes to providing healthy alternatives and adequate product information is simply untrue.”
“Instead of targeting one particular ingredient and product, the focus should be on educating society about what constitutes a balanced diet and allowing individuals to take responsibility for their own health.”
Notes to editors:
In July 2015, the IEA also published Sweet Truth? – Is there a market failure in sugar?
by Christopher Snowdon and Rob Lyons where they scrutinise the justification for increasing government interference in the sugar market. The mission of the Institute of Economic Affairs is to improve understanding of the fundamental institutions of a free society by analysing and expounding the role of markets in solving economic and social problems.
The IEA is a registered educational charity and independent of all political parties.