Government and Policy, Health
Higher taxes and warning labels on sweetened beverages reduces the sale
Taxing the beverage taxes can help reduce purchases of sugary drinks says a study by Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. The study cited the Philadelphia Tax on sweetened drinks has resulted in a 38.9 per cent drop in the sales volume of taxed beverages sold at small, independent retailers. Consumption of nonnutritive sweeteners and caloric sweeteners are on a rise worldwide and there are massive health risks associated with the overconsumption of sweetened beverages. In January 2017, Philadelphia introduced an excise tax of 1.5 cents per ounce on sugar- and artificially sweetened beverages, to raise revenue for education initiatives. Due to the tax the price of taxed drinks in the small independent stores they studied increased by 1.81 cents per ounce. Seven U.S. cities currently tax sugar-sweetened beverages, or SSBs, by the volume of the beverage. In India aerated drinks containing water, added other sweetening matter or sugar or flavoured are taxed at 28% under the new GST regime.
“Beverage taxes are a win-win: they decrease purchases of sugary drinks that are making us sick, and in Philadelphia, also raise revenue for important programs supporting children’s education,” said the researcher Christina Roberto, PhD, an associate professor at the University.
Researchers from New York University say that taxing sugar-sweetened beverages should be by the amount of sugar they contain, rather than by the liquid volume of these drinks. A previous study by Allcott, Lockwood, and Taubinsky concluded that soda taxes serve as a “net good,” an assessment based on an examination of health benefits and consumer behaviour.
A series of studies by the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill researchers have inferred that sugary drink warnings help consumers better understand products’ healthfulness and encourage consumers to make healthier choices about what drinks to buy. “As policymakers’ interest in this policy has grown, so too has research on sugary drink warnings,” said the study’s co-author Marissa G. Hall, PhD. “However, sceptics worry that warnings won’t be effective at informing consumers or encouraging healthier choices, and no research had synthesized existing evidence on sugary drink warnings to address these questions,” she adds.
These studies provide important additional evidence that beverage taxes and warning labels are effective policy tools to decrease sugar-sweetened beverage purchases.
The US FDA regulates drink labels and it permits a wide range of names, claims, and fruit images on the packaging that does not necessarily reflect the drink’s ingredients. For example, more than 60 per cent of drinks with added sugar include a positive nutrition claim about sweeteners, while more than a third of drinks with fruit pictured on the packaging do not include juice from any of the fruits shown. FDA requires products with 100 per cent juice to include statements on the packaging related to added sweeteners, products with less than 100 per cent juice are not required to have the same disclosures.
The term sugar is a catchall, including a number of substances our bodies use as fuel. Eating sugar activates the brain’s reward system, making us feel good. But with a wide availability of refined sugar, this deeply ingrained appetite can run amok. Sugar triggers specialized taste buds on our tongue. Glucose is a source of energy for all living things.
Low calorie sweeteners are used in place of sucrose, glucose and fructose. Low-calorie sweeteners produced from both artificial and naturally occurring, plant-based molecules have become popular. But they cause only modest changes in blood sugar, insulin levels, insulin sensitivity and weight gain, as compared to those induced by sugar. Artificial sweeteners may be contributing to type 2 diabetes according to researchers from the University of South Australia.
A better option to these various kinds of sugars is to stick to a healthy diet, which includes plenty of whole grains, dairy, seafood, legumes, vegetables and fruits and plain water.
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