EU Sugar Taxation May Not Be Sweet

The World Health Organization (WHO) is a big advocate of sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) taxation believing that it is a useful tool to help governments prevent non-communicable diseases such as obesity, diabetes, etc. Some countries in Europe including Belgium, France, Finland, Ireland, Norway, and the UK have implemented sugar taxation or levies. While the taxes typically apply to SSBs, some countries include sweetened milks and juices in the legislation. A new study sought to find out what was working in terms of sugar taxation and what could be improved. Currently, only 10 of 53 countries in the WHO European region have implemented SSB taxes on the national level. The study had several key findings including that shifting consumer purchasing behavior does not always result in healthier choices. WHO suggests that taxation reflect the health burden of consumption as well as cultural patterns in the various countries. It is also recommended that SSB taxation would be more successful if health and financial policymakers worked together to develop measures. Many in the food and beverage industry oppose sugar taxes and are skeptical that this type of policy brings public health benefits.

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Posted on 8 April 2022