Fighting obesity - Sugar tax blunt but effective

The Irish Beverage Council (IBC) has called a tax on sugary drinks a “blunt instrument” in the battle against obesity.

They are perfectly correct. But blunt instruments, crude an all though they may be, work. A sledgehammer may be a disproportionate weapon to kill a fly but it will do the job. Likewise, a health levy being considered here.

According to the IBC, international experience shows that a sugar tax will not work.

“Denmark, for example, abandoned a tax on sugar-sweetened drinks after only 15 months because it was losing €38.9m in Vat due to consumers travelling to Germany or Sweden to purchase products.”

That is not entirely correct. In fact, Denmark had a tax on sugar-sweetened soft drinks since the 1930s.

It was its so-called ‘fat tax’ on foods with high levels of saturated fat that was abandoned after 15 months. It had planned a more general sugar tax but ruled that out as well.

IBC’s choice of Denmark is unfortunate, as a recent WHO report shows that Danish children are the least obese and overweight among a study of 42 countries. One in four Irish children are either obese or overweight.

A sugar tax of itself may not be the silver bullet that solves the problem. Education, resrictions on vending machines and product placement all have a role to play.

It may take even more than a sledgehammer to kill that fly.


Fiann Ó Nualláin follows in the footsteps of the Fianna as he explores a province’s hills and vales.Munster marvels: Plants that are unique to a province

Cupid must be something of a motoring enthusiast, as he had most definitely steered his way in the neighbourhood when Amie Gould and Shane O’Neill met at the Rally of the Lakes 12 years ago.Wedding of the Week: Cupid steers couple to right track

When it comes to podcasting, all it takes is one idea — and who knows where it can take you.Podcast Corner: Crimes and creatures rule at Cork’s first podcast fest

Claymation meets science fiction in this enchanting film, writes Esther McCarthy.Latest Shaun adventure is out of this world

More From The Irish Examiner