Sugar Drink Tax : A Fat Loss Solution?

Sugar Drink Tax : A Fat Loss Solution?

Taxes on sugary drinks

So, I was in one of those indoor type trampoline places the other day where you can frolic around without getting hurt.

That’s the plan anyway, that said I feel like I have run a marathon still two days later and that was for only a one hour session!

On the whole, that was an exhausting one hour. Trying to clamber out from a huge air bag landing platform and traversing loads of trampolines is akin to wading through one of those ball pits.

Progress is slow and frustrating, then there’s the deluge of sweat from your brow..!

Overall, you could say a daily hour of trampolining would be a great cardio workout and a good fat burning exercise.

However, I am not here to talk about that.

When going for a refreshing and well needed drink in the bar/cafe area we were informed that all full sugar soft drinks were more expensive that their sugar free counterparts.

There was a sign up explaining that since March 2018 all sugary drinks were subject to the ‘sugar tax’.

Now, my ignorance is most likely down to the fact that I try to stay clear of watching or reading about the news because so much of it is media driven bullshit and propaganda.

Fake news is everywhere, and since my self inflicted ban on news I feel much less stressed about everything.

My brain isn’t been fed misinformation about wars, crime, politics or any other shit that is being hurled about.

So, reading about this sugar tax was a bit of a surprise and I must admit, on initial thoughts, I welcome it.

So what is it about?

UK Sugar Tax March 2018

Back in 2015 the British Medical Association started to urge the UK government to introduce a new tax on sugary drinks to help prevent the rise of obesity and type 2 diabetes that had seen a rise in children.

Then a study was released by Cambridge University which demonstrated that there were 8,000 cases of diabetes which were linked to the consumption of sugary drinks such as Cola and energy drinks.

The campaigning then began from a wider number of organisations which included Public Health England, Action on Sugar, International Diabetes Federation plus high profile chef Jamie Oliver who has long campaigned for better nutrition for children and adults alike.

The UK government did seem to drag their feet over the issue and not really commit to anything, but then another study was released, this time by The Queen Mary University which illustrated that a reduction of sugar in soft drinks by 40% would have dramatic effects.

Their study stated that a sugar reduction could prevent 300,000 cases of type 2 diabetes and 1.5 million cases of obesity in the UK alone…

That equates to 2.2% of the whole population. Not a figure to be sniffed at and would help toward reducing public funded healthcare costs for the NHS (National Health Service) which is estimated at costing $200m per week with obesity and diabetes related treatment.

The NHS recommends that consumers should not exceed more than 70g of fat and have no more than 90g of total sugar a day.

Childhood obesity is a national problem. The UK currently has one of the highest overall
obesity rates amongst developed countries, and in England a third of children are obese
or overweight when they leave primary school.


So what happened?

Initially the Prime Minister, David Cameron at the time responded to the Public Health England report which called for tighter measures on sugar sales wit a statement that read, “…there are more effective ways of tackling obesity…”

This clearly didn’t deter campaigners, and in 2016 the government made the surprise inclusion of its Childhood Obesity Strategy to include a tax on sugary drinks.

This tax was implemented as a way to encourage people to buy the sugar free alternative and while it was released as part of the 2016 government budget it wasn’t implemented until March 2018.

How is the tax calculated?

The tax is based upon the amount of sugar per 100ml of drink.

And, it is split in to two tiers.

This means that those drinks that have a sugar content of over 5g per 100ml but under 8g per 100ml will see an additional tax of 18 pence per liter.

Drinks that contain 8g or more per 100ml see an additional tax of 24 pence per liter.

The strategy estimates that it could generate £520m per year in taxes which will be spent on increasing sport in primary education.

What is classed as sugary?

Well, just for information purposes, here’s a list of the most common sugars found in soft drinks that will be subject to the additional tax:

  • sucrose
  • glucose
  • fructose
  • lactose
  • galactose

Realistically this levy is concentrating on drinks such as canned and bottled soft drinks such as the common energy drinks and soft drinks that are associated with being high in sugar such as Sprite, Pepsi, Irn Bru, Red Bull.

Therefore, certain drink such as the below are not included:

  • at least 75% milk
  • a milk replacement, like soya or almond milk
  • an alcohol replacement, like de-alcoholised beer or wine
  • made with fruit juice or vegetable juice and don’t have any other added sugar
  • liquid drink flavouring that’s added to food or drinks like coffee or cocktails
  • sold as a powder
  • prepared by mixing liquids and served in an open container, like cocktails
  • infant formula, follow on formula or baby foods
  • formulated food intended as a total diet replacement, or dietary food used for special medical purposes


Is this a UK only initiative?

No, there are only a handful of nations that have implemented a sugar tax in an effort to reduce the illnesses related to high sugar diets.

However, Mexico have led the way with many other nations observing the results.

Due to their high rate of obesity, Mexico implemented the tax levy on high sugar drinks and saw a 5.5% decrease of sugary drink consumption that hen nearly doubled on the second year.

Norway was another leading country that actually had tax levy measures in place from as early as 1922, but has since then increased the levy which has seen obesity levels curbed.

These finding look positive, and while it is too early to see the health benefits, the results look to pave the way for a 20% reduction in sugar consumption as recommended by the World Health Organization.


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Ben BA(Hons), PGCert

Ben established this site to be a free resource in 2015. Since then it has gained over half a million visits. He has always been interested in sport and he started playing rugby at the age of 6 represented his town, county and school. Ben also enjoys cycling, has started skiing and is in the Army Reserve representing his Regiment as part of the 150 Regimental Shooting Team. He holds a bachelor's and postgraduate degree in sport exercise & nutrition.

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