Research

Sugar tax trial shows a thirst for healthier options

13 March 2018 @TeesUniNews

 

A study by Teesside University suggests that people are more likely to choose healthy options over sugary drinks if they are made more affordable.

Teesside University Catering recently ran a sugar tax initiative on campus – the price of sugar sweetened cold drinks was raised by 20p, while lower sugar or sugar-free alternatives were reduced by 20p. Tap water was also freely available and the price of bottled water remained unchanged.

The results revealed a considerable increase (21%) in the average weekly sale of the subsidised healthier drinks, and a 12% reduction in sales of the sugar sweetened drinks.

The work followed on from Teesside University’s research with Public Health England which helped inform the Government’s decision to impose a 10-20% sugar tax, a soft drinks industry levy which comes into effect next month.

Dr Louisa Ells, Reader in Public Health and Obesity in Teesside University’s School of Health & Social Care, worked with Public Health England on the original sugar tax research which helped inform the Government’s policy and she has been involved in the sugar tax initiative at the University.

'This initiative at Teesside University has shown that a levy on high sugar drinks can help to reduce high sugar drink purchases on campus, which we hope will help staff and students to reduce their sugar intake and the associated risks of obesity and tooth decay,' said Dr Ells.

'Although this was just a small trial, it does show that there is support for a sugar tax and that people are more inclined to choose healthier options when there is a cost incentive attached.'

The sugar tax trial at Teesside University, which took place during the last academic year, has also been used as a national case study launched by Business in the Community, in association with Public Health England, which has developed a new physical activity, healthy eating and healthier weight resource for employers.

Although this was just a small trial, it does show that there is support for a sugar tax and that people are more inclined to choose healthier options when there is a cost incentive attached.

Dr Louisa Ells, Reader in Public Health and Obesity

The guidance brings together evidence-based research and practical advice and includes tips on how to encourage physical exercise and healthy eating in the workplace and how to create an environment that fosters healthier thinking.

Debby Roberts, Deputy Director of Campus Services at Teesside University, said: 'Teesside University Catering is committed to providing healthy options for everyone on campus.

'We are really pleased that our staff and students have bought into the campaign to reduce sugar consumption and we hope everyone will see and feel the benefits of this.'

Business in the Community Wellbeing Director, Louise Aston, said: 'Employers have a duty of care in supporting the health and wellbeing of their people.

'A healthy workplace environment, management support and the provision of attractive, healthy choices, conducive to physical activity, healthier eating and weight management should be integrated into well-being programmes that take a whole person approach.'

This work supports the University's Grand Challenge Research Theme of Health and Wellbeing which is part of a wider aim to address some of the global challenges of our time through focus on externally facing research which makes a real, practical difference to the lives of people, along with the success of businesses and economies.


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