UK Reduced Sugar Consumption in Soft Drinks by 34 Percent

A study published on January 13 offers insights into how the UK reduced sugar consumption in soft drinks by 34 percent since 2018. Their success is attributed to three factors:

1.      Public information dissemination about the harm to oral and general health from excessive sugar consumption.

2.      An effort by manufacturers to reduce the amount of sugar in their soft drinks.

3.      Imposition of a three-tiered tax on sugar-sweetened soft drinks.

sugary soft drinks - paid - shutterstock 648584629

Between 2015 and 2018 the volume of sugars in soft drinks was reduced by more than 4.5 grams per person per day. This reduction in sugars was due to reformulations by soft drink manufacturers and the introduction of lower-sugar drinks. Some of this may have been done in anticipation of the tiered tax implemented in 2018.

To reduce sugar consumption, the UK introduced a tiered tax on sugar-sweetened soft drinks. The tax is calculated in this way:

1.      Tax of 24 pence (34 cents U.S.) per liter on high-sugar drinks. These are defined as beverages containing more than 8 grams of sugar per 100 mL.

2.      Tax of 18 pence (23 cents U.S.) per liter on medium-sugar drinks. These are defined as beverages containing between 5 and 8 grams of sugar per 100mL.

3.      No tax on unsweetened drinks and low-sugar drinks. These are defined as beverages with less than 5 grams of sugar per 100 mL.

The study was not intended to evaluate the effects of the soft drink tax. Yet the study discovered “a striking reduction in the sugar content of soft drinks in the U.K.” These researchers estimated the amount of sugar in the food supply before and after the tax was implemented. Hi- and-Medium-sugar drink sales fell from 31 percent of all beverage sales in 2015 to merely 15 percent of sales in 2018. After adjusted for sales, the mean sugar content of all soft drinks decreased by 34%. The volume of sales has increased while the sugar content has declined.

An achievement of this kind will have far-reaching beneficial effects throughout the population of the UK. Would this approach have the same outcome in other places?

Please tell us what you think:

Could this be accomplished in the USA?

Is it an approach that you would support?

Do you think the same results could be achieved here?