Tax on Sugar Friend or Foe

Tax on Sugar: Friend or Foe?

The Irish government is set to announce a sugar tax in the next budget. This follows legislation in the UK planning to implement this tax in April 2018 (HM Government, 2016). The tax has also been championed by each of the main Irish political parties, however the debate about whether to impose a tax on sugary drinks raises interesting economic arguments.

The tax was first motivated due to the rising epidemic of obesity in Ireland. The Irish government also hopes the tax will encourage food producers and industry leaders to reduce the amount of sugar in their products, thus providing consumers with healthier alternatives. Fine Gael Dublin Senator, Catherine Noone, has said the high level of public support for a sugar tax shows that it is time for us to reconsider introducing the measure in a bid to curb childhood obesity, ‘A sugar tax, especially on soft drinks, would make a real difference in the battle against obesity,’ (The Journal, 2016).

Conversely, although a tax would raise prices for consumers, this does not necessarily mean they would be any more educated about their diet. The tax has been implemented in countries such as Mexico and France. In Mexico this tax was proven to only reduce the average calorie intake by six calories per day. It also failed in France - four years later consumption levels were back to 1% of what they were before the sugar tax was introduced (Cornelsen & Carreido, 2015).

Childhood obesity is still a major epidemic in Ireland, however there are no shortcuts to solving a long-term problem such as this. At healthpro focusing on lowering sugar content in foods is one of our priorities. Within the healthpro Healthy Eating Guide ( ) and Cookbook ( ), one of our symbols (S) relates to food that is low in sugar. By clicking this symbol on both directories, individuals are directed to a wide variety of restaurants providing low sugar dishes and an extensive list of low sugar recipes

In addition to directing customers to restaurant’s that provide meals low in sugar or low sugar recipes, there are more broad proposals that could be used to help tackle the obesity epidemic. These include education on reduced portion sizes; restriction on advertising and marketing to children of certain products which are not only high in sugar but high in fats or salt; promotion of healthier food ranges; and further voluntary proposals for clearer labelling.

Are you a food outlet that would like to learn more about lowering the sugar content of your recipes, achieve the low sugar symbol for that recipe and gain a competitive advantage?

Talk to our dietetic / nutrition expert team today. For customized nutrition services, please contact Dr Alan Kennedy or call 00353864119222.


Cornelsen, L., Carreido, A., 2015, Health-related taxes on food and beverages. 20th May 2015. Food Research Collaboration Policy Brief

The Journal, (2016) Your can of Coke is about to cost more - a tax on sugary drinks is on the way. Available:


                                                                                                                                                                                                © healthpro / 2016

Published on 26 September 2016 | Back to September Articles