Sugar taxes improve health of the poor, major study finds

Britain’s “sugar tax” will succeed in improving health among poorer people, the findings of a major international study suggest.

So-called “sin taxes”, such as the Soft Drinks Industry Levy, which comes into force on Friday, are more likely to alter the behaviour of less well-off consumers, the research published in a series of Lancet articles found.

At the same time, the bulk of the financial burden imposed by such taxes tend to be borne by higher-income households

The biggest research project ever of its kind, the study described non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer, which are all related to diet, as a “major cause and consequence” of poverty.

It concluded from data gathered in 13 countries around the world, all with large populations, that taxes on unhealthy behaviour could result in “major health gains”.

The study cited the introduction of a sugar tax in Mexico in 2014 which resulted in a 4.2 litre per person reduction in consumption in a year and 17 per cent fewer purchases among lower-income people.

By contrast, consumer purchasing hardly changed among better-off groups.

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