Study: Sugar tax on soft drinks could save up to 16 billion euros

According to a study, a sugar tax on soft drinks would save up to 16 billion euros in Germany alone over the next two decades and prevent numerous illnesses.

Study: Sugar tax on soft drinks could save up to 16 billion euros

According to a study, a sugar tax on soft drinks would save up to 16 billion euros in Germany alone over the next two decades and prevent numerous illnesses. “A soft drinks tax in Germany would have clear positive effects,” concludes the research team from the Technical University of Munich and the British University of Liverpool in the specialist magazine “PLOS Medicine”. In all simulated variants, less sugar would be consumed and illnesses would be less common. “In this way, economic costs could be reduced and the burden on the health system could be relieved.”

The World Health Organization recommends a special tax of at least 20 percent on sugary drinks in order to reduce the population's sugar consumption and its health consequences. Many countries have already introduced tax measures to combat the consumption of sugary drinks or foods. Instead, Germany is relying on a voluntary commitment from the beverage industry - studies have shown so far with moderate results.

The study from Munich now shows that the desired effect of a tax would actually occur in this country and that the risk of obesity and illness would decrease. However, it makes a difference whether the tax is aimed at generally reducing soft drink consumption or bringing about recipe changes.

According to international studies, if the tax is due regardless of the sugar content, this will primarily lead to a reduced demand for soft drinks. However, if the tax is based on the amount of sugar, the recipes of the drinks would also be changed.

"According to the simulation, with a flat 20 percent surcharge on soft drink prices, sugar consumption per day and person would decrease by one gram," the researchers described the potential effects in Germany. According to estimates, in the group of men between 30 and 49 years old it would be just under three grams per day.

“An even greater impact would be a 30 percent reduction in sugar in recipes, as was recorded in Great Britain after the introduction of the graduated manufacturer levy,” explained the team of experts. This would reduce per capita consumption in Germany by 2.3 grams per day, and by as much as 6.1 grams for 30 to 49-year-old men.

According to the team's calculations, with both taxation options there would be significantly fewer cases of obesity and cardiovascular diseases. The expected effects are particularly large for type 2 diabetes: "According to our models, up to 244,100 people would develop type 2 diabetes later or not at all within the next 20 years," explained the first author of the study, Karl Emmert fees.

With a tax on sweetened drinks, fewer treatments would be necessary and the costs of sick days and incapacity to work would also fall. For the period 2023 to 2043, the team has calculated economic savings of around 16 billion euros with a staggered manufacturer levy, of which around 4 billion euros are in healthcare costs. "With a 20 percent tax it would still be around 9.5 billion euros in total."

In addition, people under the age of 30 were not taken into account in the calculations because most of the modeled diseases occur primarily in the second half of life. However, soft drink consumption is highest among teenagers, explained Emmert-Fees. "Accordingly, the average reduction in sugar consumption would be even more drastic and the positive health effect even greater if we took younger people into account."

Just recently a report in the journal “BMJ Nutrition, Prevention

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