The taxes on sugary drinks that were introduced in the United Kingdom in 2018 would have prevented more than 5,000 cases of obesity a year in that country. A report published in “PLoS Medicine” that has reviewed data from the National Child Measurement Program that began in 2006 shows that the tax on soft drinks with sugar would have reduced obesity in girls between 10 and 11 years of age by 8% , especially among those who lived in more disadvantaged areas. That is, they had been prevented 5,234 cases of obesity per year only in this group.
Carried out by a team of researchers from the University of Cambridge (United Kingdom), the study analyzed the impact of the tax on sugary drinks on different groups of boys and girls.
On an annual basis, the researchers measured the height and weight of primary school boys and girls ages 4 and 5 and 10 and 11, respectively.
The objective was to know the levels of overweight and obesity in children. In 2016, a tax on sugary drinks was imposed in the UK.
The authors examined the prevalence of obesity in selected populations for 19 months after the implementation of this measure. The effect of gender and socioeconomic conditions of families on childhood obesity was also evaluated.
Obesity has become a global public health problem. In England, one in ten children aged four to five years is obese and this number doubles to one in five children aged 10 to 11).
Being obese increases the probability of suffering serious health problems, such as high blood pressure, type II diabetes and depression, not only during childhood, but also in adulthood and old age.
“In 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended applying measures worldwide to reduce the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and their health consequences,” María Dolores del Castillo, a researcher at the Science Research Institute, told SMC. of Food (CSIC-UAM).
He adds that the reports of this organization suggest that “taxes on sugary drinks help to reduce the consumption of these products and also the prevalence of obesity, type 2 diabetes and dental caries. However, the results derived from the different studies of the application of this policy in different countries indicate controversial results.
In his opinion, these results “are of great interest” when it comes to obtaining information that allows “establishing the effectiveness of the policies that are being carried out globally to reduce sugar intake and reduce the incidence of obesity.” children and chronic pathologies in the future.
In the UK, young people are consuming significantly more added sugar than is recommended and a big cause of this is sugary drinks. And children from disadvantaged households are more likely to be at risk of obesity and to be heavy consumers of sugary drinks.
In April 2018, to protect children from excessive sugar consumption and to tackle childhood obesity, UK governments introduced a two-tier sugar tax on soft drinks. The tax was targeted at beverage manufacturers to incentivize them to reduce the sugar content of soft drinks.
in 2021 spain increased the VAT from 10% to 21% for sugary and sweetened drinks. Its effects in the field of health have not been documented, although it has been seen that it has significantly reduced the consumption of the most vulnerable households, although not in the wealthiest, although it must be taken into account that households with fewer resources and dependent children accounted for an important part of soft drink consumption.
What the researchers have done Medical Research Council (MRC) Epidemiology Unit from the University of Cambridge is to track changes in these two groups between 2014 and 2020. Taking past trends in obesity levels into account, they compared changes in obesity levels 19 months after the sugar tax went into effect. .
And the data shows that the introduction of the sugar tax was associated with a reduction 8% in obesity levels in six-year-old girlswhich is equivalent to preventing 5,234 cases of obesity per year only in this group. However, the team found no associations between the enforcement of the sugar tax and changes in obesity levels in children.
for the first time it is shown that the tax on soft drinks could prevent thousands of children from becoming obese every year
“We urgently need to find ways to address the growing number of children living with obesity, otherwise we risk our children growing up facing significant health problems. That was one of the reasons the UK soft drink industry tax was introduced, and the evidence so far is promising.. We have shown for the first time that it is likely to have helped prevent thousands of children from becoming obese every year.” Nina Rogersstudy author.
Although the researchers found an association rather than a causal link, this study adds to previous findings that the tax was associated with a substantial reduction in the amount of sugar in soft drinks.