12/01/2017 06:19 GMT | Updated 13/01/2018 05:12 GMT

Forget The Sugar Tax. New Research Shows That It Won't Work

We all want a healthier nation. In fact, we need one. National statistics show that 58% of women and 65% of men are overweight or obese. This is estimated at costing the UK economy £27 billion per year.

We need to solve this. The question is how. Sure, the government are introducing a new levy on sugary drinks. But today we've released new YouGov research which shows that it just won't work. Our research reveals that:

  • 68% of UK adults find healthy food and drink more expensive than those not marked as healthy

  • A staggering 40% of 18-34 year olds, 30% across all age groups, can't afford to purchase healthy food and drink because they are more expensive than other products

It's clear. Price is a barrier to a healthy diet.

What's also clear is that increasing the price of certain high sugar products to disincentivise their purchase will not and cannot solve this root problem. Policy makers seem wedded to looking at the problem of excessive sugar consumption from the wrong angle.

Here at the #DontTaxHealthy campaign we have a practical and workable solution which will reduce the nation's sugar consumption. We're petitioning the government to cut VAT to the reduced rate of 5% on all lower sugar food and drink. This will bring hundreds of lower sugar products into price parity with their ordinary counterparts and crucially, will scrap the price barrier which so many of us face.

The reduced rate of VAT is usually used when it's considered that there is a social responsibility to encourage the purchase and consumption of certain products - e.g. children's car seats and home energy. With obesity and obesity-related illnesses rising to unprecedented levels, it's clear that there is a social responsibility to make lower sugar products cheaper.

Created by the founders of OPPO, a UK-based healthy ice cream company, and Sugarwise, the new certification for lower sugar food and drink, #DontTaxHealthy has already received over 3000 signatures and the support of over 50 brands across the food, health and wellness industries, along with the National Obesity Forum.

New thinking is needed if we're going to reduce the UK's sugar consumption and create a healthier nation. Introducing new levies won't work. They won't tackle the root problem of inadequate economic access to lower sugar food and drink.

Join us today by adding your signature to our petition here.


Research was conducted by YouGov Plc on behalf of #DontTaxHealthy. Respondents were asked about their attitudes towards food / drink products marked as 'healthy' (e.g. lower in sugar, higher in fibre, added vitamins etc.). Research was conducted online between 16th - 19th December 2016 with 2055 adults and the sample has been weighted to be representative of all GB adults (18+).