sugarA tax on sweet snacks will have a broader impact on the amount of sugar consumed, new research has found.

The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, along with the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford, have estimated that adding a 10% sugar tax on chocolate, confectionery, cakes and biscuits could reduce purchases by around 7%.

Despite this being similar to that of sugary drinks, the study found that taxing sweet snacks would have a knock-on effect on the sale of other foods:

  • Reducing soft drink purchases by 0.6-0.8%
  • Reducing biscuit and cake sales by 1.2%
  • Reducing savoury snack sales by 1.6%.

‘It’s impossible to study the direct effects of a tax on snack food on consumer behaviour until such policies are introduced, but these estimates show the likely impact of changes in the price,’ Susan Jebb, a professor from the University of Oxford, said.

‘These snacks are high in sugar but often high in fat too and very energy dense, so their consumption can increase the risk of obesity.

‘This research suggests that extending fiscal policies to include sweet snacks could be an important boost to public health, by reducing purchasing and hence consumption of these foods, particularly in low-income households.’

Confectionary tax

Action on Sugar has previously made calls for a tax on sugar across all confectionary and a ban on confectionary price promotions.

Confectionary sharing bags can contain up to 29 teaspoons of sugar, four times an adults recommended daily intake and around 1,000 calories.

Many sharing packs claim they contain more than one portion, however some portions contain almost an entire days recommended daily sugar intake for seven to 10-year-olds.

‘Companies and supermarkets are constantly finding ways to push more sugary products – which are contributing to the high rates of obesity, type two diabetes and tooth decay in the UK,’ registered nutritionist, Kawther Hashem, researcher at Action on Sugar, says.

‘These types of price promotions (ie discounts) encourage us to eat far too much sugar and calories and should be banned.

‘It is time retailers are pressed to act responsibly and no longer profit at the expense of our health.’


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Getting a bargain

Studies have found that the current sugary drinks tax could be undermined by meal deal promotions.

A study by The Independent found that students decide what to include in their meal deal based on the cost of the items in the hope of getting a bargain.

In the study, students chose the most expensive drink as part of the meal deal to maximise the cost benefit, despite knowing the associated health risks.