The United Kingdom will launch a tax on sugary drinks today, which will increase the price of some drinks by as much as 25%.
The measure seeks to improve public health, with high sugar consumption helping cause obesity and diseases like diabetes, which 3.7 million British suffer from. Though intended to discourage drink purchases, some producers have responded by expanding reduced-sugar options to avoid the tax; that will also help reduce consumers’ sugar intake.
Britain’s is only the latest in a series of similar measures internationally. France, Mexico, Portugal and South Africa are among countries that have implemented a sugar levy. While some states have seen declining sugar consumption—Mexico’s dropped by 7.6% in two years—it remains to be seen if this will mean reduced obesity rates.
However, opposition has come from drink-producing companies and soft drink-loving consumers. This has led Australia’s government to decide against the policy and Chicago to repeal its tax. But, with the number of countries instituting levies rising, the tide may be against the cola companies—especially if obesity rates actually do fall.
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Nicholas is an Italian politics aficionado. Nick brings his knowledge of southern Europe to bear in The Daily Brief team, where he serves as a senior analyst and editor.