Evidence, rather than electioneering, should inform policy decisions, states the IBC.
“In the debate on a sugar tax, simple, verifiable facts are being ignored in favour of populist soundbites based on ill-informed opinion,” claimed IBC Director Kevin McPartlan, “An additional and blunt tax on one ingredient and product is not an effective way to combat the complex and multi-faceted obesity challenge.”
He pointed out that:
- The soft drinks tax in Mexico has only reduced average calorie intake by 4.7 calories a day and sales in France are at pre-tax levels. In 2013 Denmark scrapped its fat tax because of its economic impact and abandoned plans for a tax on sugar
- Despite its introduction in several countries around the world, no causal link has ever been established between additional tax on sugar-sweetened beverages and reduction in obesity
- The beverage industry in Ireland has taken massive steps to reduce the amount of sugar it puts into the national diet through increased promotion of low- and no-calorie products (which now account for 50% of the Irish market) and reformulation (changing the recipes) of existing products. Between 2005 and 2012 the beverage industry reduced sugar in its products by approximately 10% at no cost to the consumer.
“We are all rightly concerned about obesity but the contention that an additional tax on products which account for just 3% of the calories consumed in Ireland will solve it is nonsense,” continued Kevin McPartland, “We already pay VAT on soft drinks. This is an unnecessary additional cost to consumers in Ireland dressed-up as a public health measure. It will not solve the root causes of obesity. It’s simply another stealth tax.
“It would be better to focus on evidence-led interventions that will make a positive difference to obesity. It is vital that whoever makes up the next government talks to industry so that effective initiatives are not sacrificed for snappy election sound bites,” he concluded.