If you want to stem rising obesity levels, sugary drinks should be taxed like cigarettes. So urges the UK Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, which is calling for pilots of taxes that hike prices by 20 per cent. The idea is to lower consumption by making sugary drinks dearer, a strategy known to cut sales of cigarettes and alcohol.
Hungary introduced a food tax in 2011 and quarterly soft drinks sales dropped from 117 to 69 million litres within six months.
Potential health benefits of reducing calorie intake were demonstrated after the Cuban economy collapsed in the late 1980s, says Simon Capewell, on the steering committee for the academy’s report. Hard-up citizens ate an average of 1000 calories a day less. Within a decade or so, the incidence of obesity halved, with falls of 51 and 35 per cent respectively in diabetes and heart attacks