The Big Nudge, er, a sugar tax on sweetened drinks is a recent arrival in the UK, but the country needs to resist opposition to the tax in order to combat obesity and diabetes, argues Nina Renshaw in The Telegraph, noting that it helps Britain keep pace with countries facing similar public health challenges. Renshaw, the director of policy and advocacy at the NCD Alliance, advocates a combination of the sugar tax with public health campaigns targeting kids and adults and other initiatives to encourage healthy eating and exercise, pointing to the success of other countries that have implemented similar multi-pronged efforts.
- Renshaw notes that a number of countries besides the UK have implemented taxes on sugary drinks, including France, Mexico, Ireland, South Africa, Hungary, Norway, and Chile (as well as a number of cities in the U.S).
- The example of Mexico is encouraging: with obesity becoming a national public health crisis, in 2014 Mexico implemented a tax on sugary drinks, and subsequently consumption of sugary drinks dropped 5% in 2015 and a further 10% in 2016. Epidemiologists calculate that should lead to around 200,000 fewer cases of diabetes in the long run, and over 20,000 fewer strokes and heart attacks, resulting in 18,900 fewer deaths by 2022.
- Cognizant of the economic counterarguments, Renshaw also argues that a tax on sugary drinks would actually benefit low-income people rather than punish them. In Mexico consumption among the lowest-income families fell 12%.