According to the results of a study done by Oxford and Reading universities, levying a 20 percent tax on sugary drinks such as soda would help curb obesity in the UK, which has been named Europe's fattest country.
The results were published yesterday in the British Medical Journal and have determined that raising the prices of certain beverages would deter their purchase and make people choose healthier alternatives like milk, tea, or diet soda. A 20 percent tax would add 12 pence (about 19 cents) to a typical can of soda and 40 pence (64 cents) to the cost of a two-liter bottle.
Researchers claim the tax would reduce the purchase of sugary drinks by 15 percent and lead to a 1.3 percent drop nationally in obesity. The tax would have the biggest impact on the under-30 crowd, which drinks the most soda.
The Washington Post adds that the British government has shied away from imposing taxes on unhealthy food in the past and instead has encouraged businesses to use strategies such as salt reduction to make their products healthier.
Last year, a fat tax on foods like meat pies (aka pasties), burgers, and sausages was proposed by Oxford's Mike Rayner, who is also one of the authors of the soda study released yesterday. The logic for the fat tax was similar to that of the soda tax and also called for a 20 percent rate. The suggestion came after a proposed tax on pasties to regulate the Value Added Tax on hot takeaway food, which the government backtracked on after public outcry.