‘Sugar tax’ schemes backed by 60% of consumers

In the week health chiefs have again raised the idea of taxing cakes and puddings, more than half of consumers have said they back ‘sugar tax’-style initiatives.

Six in 10 Brits support taxes on unhealthy food and drink, such as the levy introduced on soft drinks last year, according to a poll of 2,000 people by Mintel.

The findings comes as health chiefs have again brought up the prospect of taxing foods that contribute to the UK’s obesity problem.

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England (PHE), this week told The Telegraph that further action – including taxes – would be suggested to the government if food suppliers have not made significant progress in reducing sugar content in products. And in her 2018 annual report, chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies said taxes could be used to reduce the supply and demand for unhealthier goods.

Consumers also told Mintel they want to be encouraged to be healthier, with 63% of adults saying they would like brands to reward them for leading a healthy lifestyle, a figure that rose to 76% among under-25s.

Consumers recognise decisive action is needed, even if it hits their pockets
Emma Clifford, Mintel associate director of food and drink

 

“The UK is facing an obesity time bomb and consumers recognise decisive action is needed to combat this problem, even if it hits their pockets,” said Emma Clifford, Mintel associate director of food and drink.

“Over six months after the soft drinks sugar tax was introduced, and reports of a potential ‘pudding tax’ being considered, consumers are keen on the idea of taxing them in order to discourage unhealthy lifestyles.

“It is clear consumers really want help in cutting through all the noise around healthy lifestyles, with more guidance in making healthier choices as well as rewards for doing so.”

Mintel also found that 49% of younger consumers admitted a lack of motivation was preventing them from following healthy habits more often. Particularly when it comes to young women, with 57% of those aged 16-24 admitting they were not following healthy habits for this reason.

In contrast, just one in five over-65-year-olds said lack of motivation was a contributing factor to not following a healthy lifestyle more often.

“The generational difference highlighted in our research reflects the health implications of lifestyle choices are holding far more relevancy and immediacy for older consumers,” added Clifford.

“Meanwhile, many health issues linked to unhealthy habits are a distant and ambiguous prospect for young adults – despite the potential threat to their future wellbeing – and so reducing the incentive to minimise these risks in their day-to-day lives.”

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