Potential impact of a tax on high sugar snacks on the prevalence of obesity in the UK

A study of the general adult population in the UK was conducted to estimate the potential impact of a 20% price increase in high-sugar snacks on body mass index (BMI) and prevalence of obesity.

Data on over thirty thousand households’ spend on food and beverages was taken from the UK Kantar FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) panel for January 2012 to December 2013. The household sample is representative of the population for household size, number of children, social class, geographical region, and age of the main shopper. Additionally the high-sugar snacks included in this study were confectionery (including chocolate), biscuits and cake (piece, slice or portion).

The study showed:

  • A price increase in confectionery and biscuits reduced energy purchased across all income groups.
  • The impact of a price increase in high-sugar snacks on energy purchase was largest in low income households classified as obese, and smallest in high income households classified as not overweight.
  • A price increase of high-sugar snacks and beverages combined decreased BMI on average by −0.53. Households classified as obese ranged from −0.36 for high income to −0.72 for low income households a year after introduction.
  • The population level reduction in prevalence of obesity in the first year was 2.7 percentage points.

This study demonstrates the potential impact that a tax on high-sugar snacks could have at a population level to tackle obesity.

Posted: 10/09/2019 12:41:48 by Deirdre Brennan
Filed under: BMI, high sugar snacks, Obesity, tax


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