(originally published on 4 January 2017, The Diplomatic Courier)
The Diplomatic Courier published an article on economic impacts of the sugar tax on small businesses in Mexico on 4 January 2017.
The article discusses negative economic consequences of the beverage and food tax, introduced in 2014, on small businesses around Mexico.
Read the full article here:
(originally published on 23 November 2016, The Guardian)
The Guardian published a video of Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce on a sugar tax on 23 November 2016.
In his speech, the Deputy Prime Minister underlines the moral issues connected with a sugar tax, which in his view would cost a lot of problems after certain recommendations that sweetened beverages would be taxed at a higher rate.
Read the full article here:
Like many other countries, Australia is looking for the best solution to tackle the growing problem of obesity. As many are asking for a tax on certain products, including soft drinks, the Australian Beverages Council shows why a measure of this type will not work.
First of all, recent studies have identified what has been called “Australian Paradox” – the fact that in the last years, while the refined sugar intake has dramatically decreased (26%), as well as the consumption of sweetened beverages, the prevalence of obesity in Australians was multiplied by 3. Moreover, according to a 2012 Australian Health Survey conducted by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), soft drinks represent just 1.7% of the average adult’s daily calorie intake. This figure shows that a tax on soft drinks would not have much effects.
In addition, similar taxes in other countries have failed: the Danish ‘fat tax’ was abolished 18 months after its introduction due to its ineffectiveness and negative impact on the economy. In 2014 also the European Commission conducted a study on the impact of food taxes, concluding that instead of increasing citizens’ health these measures provoked job losses, higher food prices and higher administrative costs.
The introduction of a soft drinks tax in Mexico has raised another fundamental concern: the 63,7% of it is collected from low income families, according to KantarWorldpanel. This illustrates how such taxes are regressive and damage the most the least well-off families.
Two more facts have to be taken into account: consumers are choosing more and more no or low calorie products and, according to a 2014 Australian survey, they strongly believe that education is the most effective way to tackle obesity.
The full statement by the Australian Beverages Council can be found here: ABC White Paper.
Researcher at the University of Essex, children’s fitness expert Dr. Gavin Sandercock writes in BBC news that we have been looking at obesity the wrong way, leaving the harm generated by physical inactivity aside.
Dr. Sandercock points out that reports alerting on an “obesity time-bomb” are multiplying. But according to him, the extent of the problem is often exaggerated. Figures from the National Child Measurement Programme for 2010-2011 estimate that 9% of 5 to 6-year-olds are obese, that is, Dr. Sandercock says, 2.7 children out of 30 in a class. It was 1.5 in 1990. He underlines that an “epidemic” is a term corresponding to the increase of one child per class in 20 years and suggests that childhood obesity are somewhat plateauing (25 for 2-5-years-olds boys, 23% for girls between 2003 and 2013).
Furthermore, Dr. Sandercock says that public health keeps being focused on food and obesity, and overlooks physical activity. As dietary guidelines vary with time, some propose to tax “unhealthy foods” as a way to tackle obesity. He underlines that we are missing the point by putting the focus on taxes. Healthy eating cannot be the only answer to obesity: physical activity is the key feature to keep in mind.
Those observations are corroborated by studies made in Australia in 2011, by the Snowdon report “The Fat Lie” in 2014, and most recently by Ekelund et al. 2015.
Quoting the British Heart Foundation 2015 figures, Dr. Sandercock shows that none of 11-15 year-old girls do enough exercise, and only 7% for boys. He calls for 60 minutes of exercise for children and young people each day and praises iniatiatives on physical activity launched around UK. To conclude, he points out that physical activity will not solve all obesity issues, but will benefit to all.
The full article can be read here.
Barclay, Alan W. & Brand-Miller, Jennie, 2011. “The Australian Paradox: A Substantial Decline in Sugars Intake over the Same Timeframe that Overweight and Obesity Have Increased”, Nutrients3, 2011
The study’s aim was to analyse the trends in obesity and sugar consumption in Australia over the last 30 years and compare with the UK and USA. The results confirm the “Australian Paradox” where a decline in sugar intake took place at the same time as obesity increased. Some key insights from the study:
- “Our findings do not support the widely held belief that reducing the consumption of refined sugars, and increasing the availability and preference for low-joule beverages, will help to reverse societal trends in obesity”
- “The findings challenge the implicit assumption that taxes and other measures to reduce intake of soft drinks will be an effective strategy in global efforts to reduce obesity”
You can find the whole paper here.