Taxing sugary drinks

 

Sir – The Irish soft drinks industry welcomes Irish Heart’s statement in these pages that a sugar-sweetened drinks tax would not, by itself, solve the obesity crisis (September 4th). The Irish Beverage Council joins them in calling for a holistic approach to tackle obesity. We will continue to invest in innovation; reducing sugar content while increasing our no-sugar and low-sugar offerings.

The facts are clear. There is less sugar in soft drinks and fewer children are drinking sugar-sweetened drinks daily. A health impact assessment of the tax, commissioned by the Department of Health, found that adults who do not regularly consume sugar-sweetened drinks are just as likely to be overweight, and more likely to be obese, than regular consumers of sugar-sweetened drinks. The same report also found that evidence linking sugar-sweetened drink consumption with weight gain is not conclusive. In Mexico, France, Denmark and Hungary where similar taxes were introduced, obesity rates have increased.

Pursuing a tax on health grounds is a way of looking tough on obesity, without actually tacking obesity.

The idea that a tax should be introduced simply because a lobby group calls for it, despite a lack of supportive evidence, must be challenged.

There is no conclusive evidence that tax reduces obesity. It is simply not fair to increase the cost of everyone’s weekly shop as a first step, in the hope that a range of future “multifaceted interventions” might make it work. – Yours, etc,

COLM JORDAN,

Director,

Irish Beverage Council,

Baggot Street, Dublin 2.