Thursday, 17 March 2016

New Statesman: Of course the sugar tax is regressive. So is sugar.

New Statesman: Of course the sugar tax is regressive. So is sugar.


by Henry Zeffman


"Well of course it’s regressive. So is sugar and so are its effects. The country’s obesity crisis – and it really is a crisis when almost two-thirds of adults are either overweight or obese along with a quarter of young children - disproportionately affects the poorest. Findings drawn at the end of last year from the Millenium Cohort Study, which tracks nearly 20,000 British families, found a stark link between relative poverty and childhood obesity. By the age of just five, poor children were almost doubly likely to be obese than their better off peers.

Of course sugar consumption does not explain all, or even most, of that relationship. Still, high sugar intakes are a cause of obesity, and obesity is a cause of type 2 diabetes, which has risen by 70% in a decade.

If obesity and its effects disproportionately hit the poor, why should it be any surprise that a measure to tackle obesity disproportionately affects the poor? That’s the whole point. A tax with the intention of changing behaviour is obviously going to affect the people who behave in that way."

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