What is it?
Chancellor George Osborne revealed that a new sugar tax on the soft drinks industry will be introduced in the UK. The levy will target high-sugar drinks, especially fizzy drinks, in the fight against childhood obesity.
There will be two tax bands according to total sugar content – above 5g/100ml and above 8g/100ml – levied by 18p and 24p per litre respectively.
The Government predicts that the tax will raise £520 million, which will be spent on increasing the funding for sport in primary schools.
This week, the government has revealed it plans to cut sugar content in food and drink by 20% over four years. However, mesaures such as curbs on junk food TV adverts are not to be expected in the strategy – an element which public health experts were deeply in favour of.
Charities have also called for various measures to be introduced including changing regulations around junk food promotions and a greater focus on exercise.
Will your favourite drinks be taxed?
If the tax were to be enforced now, the following drinks would be levied: (highest tax band) regular Coca-Cola and Pepsi, Lucozade Energy and Irn-Bru; (lower tax band) Dr. Pepper, Fanta, Sprite, Schweppes Indian tonic water and alcohol-free shandy.
Pure fruit juices and milk-based drinks will be exempt from the tax.
Health campaigners have been gunning for the levy for some time. The tax gained support from high-profile figures such as Jamie Oliver, who introduced a sugar levy in his restaurants and set up an e-petition signed by over 150,000 people.
When will it be enforced?
In 2018 – Mr. Osborne is giving the soft drink industry 2 years to modify their products and promote low sugar items.
So, how much sugar do these drinks contain?
You may think nothing of having a can of Coke with your lunch or mixed with alcohol on the weekend. However, a typical can of fizzy drink can contain up to 9 teaspoons of sugar, which is already over the recommended daily allowance of 30 grams.
The average daily intake of sugar in the UK is 58.8 grams, almost double the recommended allowance.
A new app called Sugarwise has been developed from a team at Cambridge University which allows consumers to monitor the sugar content in food and highlight options that are low in free sugars.
Is sugar REALLY that bad for you?
Recent infographics have shown the devastating effects sugar has on the body. Aside from the obvious ailments – tooth decay, weight gain – eating too much sugar can bring on a myriad of health issues.
By causing energy spikes and crashes, excessive consumption can worsen depression and anxiety. It can also play a part in the onset of dementia by affecting the mood-regulating neurotransmitters in the brain.
Excess sugar has also been linked to heart disease, liver and kidney damage and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
The surprising foods that exceed the daily sugar allowance
Smoothies – think you’re being healthy by drinking smoothies? Think again – a litre carton of one well-known brand contains a staggering 110 grams of sugar.
Porridge – whilst plain porridge oats are a great way to start the day, flavoured or ‘instant’ kinds can bring you up to your daily limit in just one meal. One serving of Moma! Cranberry & Raisin Porridge contains 20.3 grams of sugar.
Soup – filling and low in calories and fat, soup is a dieter’s go-to meal. However, some ‘healthy’ pots can contain as much as 36 grams of sugar.
Water – of course plain or sparkling water is fine, but some flavoured varieties can pack a punch – Volvic Touch of Fruit Lemon and Lime Water contains 27.5 grams of sugar.
Red apples – a large red apple can contain as much as 20 grams of sugar. Opt for a smaller green variety like Granny Smith to get one of your five-a-day.
Yoghurt – avoid low-fat and flavoured brands like the plague! Total Greek 0% Fat Free Yogurt with Honey contains almost 20 grams of the sweet stuff.
Granola – Nuts, seeds, oats – yes, granola might be packed with healthy ingredients, but don’t be fooled. Many brands contain high sugar levels, like Quaker Oat Granola, which contains 23 grams of sugar per 100 grams.