Sugar paper

UK sugar tax hits sweet spot, so why is Australia waiting?

In a paper published in the British Medical Journal, UK researchers have shown that one year after the British Government imposed a levy on sugar sweetened beverages (or SSBs), people are buying less sugar, but industry’s bottom line remains largely unscathed – described as a ‘win-win’ outcome.

In an editorial accompanying this paper, The George Institute’s Dr Alexandra Jones proposes that there are lessons to be learned by other countries, including Australia:

  • Here, an SSB tax has been sidelined by a voluntary pledge by the Australian Beverage Council to reduce sugar sold in beverages by 20 percent over a decade, but the terms of the pledge are vague, it doesn’t cover all products and will not be independently reviewed.


  • The UK experience suggests tougher regulation would not necessarily harm industry – this may be important for building political will in countries like Australia where industry opposition has kept tax off the table.


  • The tiered design of the UK tax and how effective its been could inspire better design for future taxes to improve the healthiness and sustainability of the food supply. This would be the ultimate ‘win-win’ – for human health, and the planet.


Please see the British Medical Journal’s media release attached.