Should the UK tax soda to lower obesity rates?

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

coke UK
Perhaps she’ll think twice about ordering soda next time!

Obesity is not as rare as doctors and physicians would like it to be, especially in the United Kingdom. About 1 out of every 4 UK citizens are packing more extra weight than is considered healthy, and with 63 million people walking the streets, it’s one of the fattest nations in Western Europe. According to researchers at Oxford University and the University of Reading, a good way to tackle this issue is to raise the price of soft drinks.

If sugary beverages become more expensive, then people may choose to buy water, orange juice, or milk instead. In fact, the scientists estimate that putting a 20% tax – or paying 20 cents for every dollar spent – will cut down the number of obese adults by about 180,000! According to the calculations, that’s a whole… let’s see, add the one, carry over the decimal point… oh, a 1.3 % drop in obesity. Well, it may not be a lot, but it’s definitely better than nothing!

“Every possible alternative that people would buy is going to be a better than a sugary drink,” said Mike Rayner of Oxford, one of the study authors. “(The tax) is not a [total solution], but it’s part of the solution.”

The researchers are hopeful the taxes will be applied, but they’re not unrealistic in their expectations. For instance, the UK decided not to tax fatty meat pies last year due to a shaky economy and public outcry. If they ever do pass a law taxing unhealthy sodas, at least they can look to Mexico as an example of a government that’s serious about taxing junk food.

Featured image courtesy of bellaphon on Flickr. Image of restaurant soda courtesy of Jody O’dea on Flickr.