Sugary Goo: Avoid it. Here at Dentistry For Children, we know how difficult it can be to control your child’s craving for sweets. All over the world, parents have been seeking help controlling their children’s intake of sugar. You probably already know about taxes on sugary drinks. And you might be aware of how the taxes have resulted in a reduction in the consumption of sugary drinks according to new statistics.
Likewise, we have reported numerous times on the dangers of tooth decay and infections due to imbibing sugary drinks. We’ve appreciated the sugary drink tax as it has helped to reduce the pain, expense and health risk of tooth decay in many children. Let’s look at a few statistics on sugary drinks and taxation before moving on to considering a tax on sugary tax.
Sugary Drinks Disciplined with Taxation?
We have tax and sugary drink data came from four U.S. cities. The cities included Berkeley, Cleveland, Philadelphia, and Portland. Data was also collected from the regions in Spain, Chile, France, and Mexico. All of these localities tax sugary drinks.
The results revealed a decline in purchases and consumption of these drinks. The studies also found that a 10% tax was associated with a 10% decrease in the purchase of sugary drinks. The results also revealed a non-significant 1.9% increase in total consumption of untaxed beverages, such as water.” (Obviously, we would not think that 1.9% was non-significant if we consider the significance of avoided tooth decay.)
High Praise for Mexico’s Tax on Sugary Drinks
Mexico is one country which has exhibited success with this type of taxation. They placed tax specifically, not on sugary snacks, but on sugary drinks. The tax on sugary drinks was levied in 2014. A year later, the sale of sugary drinks dropped 12 percent. Even better, statistics reflected that sales of bottled water purchases rose 4 percent.
“Public health authorities hailed the findings.”
- This is the first hard evidence that a nationwide tax could spur behavioral changes that might help to chip away at high obesity rates.”
- Some predicted that other countries viewed Mexico as a test case. Thus, other countries might “implement their own taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages.”
Sugary Snacks Need the Same Tax Treatment
Recently the British have released a new research study that found “raising the price of cookies, cakes, and other sweets could benefit public health.”
They stated, “A 20% price increase on high-sugar snacks could lead to beneficial health outcomes. They included reduced calorie intake, body mass index (BMI), and obesity.” These stats are comparable to those produced by the taxes on soda.
The results could be especially prominent for U.K. residents. They consume “12% of their daily calories and 26% of their free sugars from cookies, cakes, and confectionery.”
Snack Attack Reports Applauded
British and American dentists are applauding the results of UK and Mexico studies. In short, we know parents need some kind of help to limit their children’s snacks here in the US. (Tongue in cheek) We must comment that a tax on sugary snacks gives parents a powerful weapon that even toddlers comprehend. “No, that giant ooey-gooey candy bar is too expensive.”
The Big British Research Report: Sugary Snacks and Helpful Tax
The British researchers studied the effects of a 20% price increase on high-sugar snacks. Purchase data from nearly 33,000 households was included. By the way, their idea of sugary snacks in the study “included chocolate, cookies, and cake. However, it did not include snacks consumed outside of the home. (Or “large cakes meant to be shared.”)
After perusing piles of data, they made several conclusions. These are ones which could apply to American diets, health, and statistics.
1. A 20% price increase on high-sugar snacks could decrease calories consumed and BMI.
2. “The estimated population-level reduction in the prevalence of obesity in the first year was 2.7 percentage points.”
3. They added, “Furthermore, our results suggest that a 20% tax on high-sugar snacks could also contribute to reducing health inequalities driven by diet-related disease…”
It became a given in the British study that the potential for the greatest reduction in sugar consumption would be seen in households with two factors in common:
• Families fighting or supporting obesity together.
• And families engaged in grocery shopping on a low income.
And Now, a Step Back into Unsugar-Coated Reality
There is almost no chance that a 20% price increase on sugary snacks is could happen. Taxes of this type have a 10% tradition. J. Bernadette Moore, Ph.D., and Barbara Fielding, Ph.D., actually prefaced the report with this discouraging fact. They wrote it in a letter released at the same time as the study.
In spite of the letter, the experts liked the study. They stated, “The novelty in Scheelbeek and colleagues’ data is the suggestion that increasing the price of sugary snacks might be more effective at reducing body mass index than increasing the price of SSBs.” They wrote, “Although the authors’ research modeled a U.K. context where high-sugar foods contribute more to intakes of free sugar and total energy than SSBs, the results are likely also relevant to other countries.”
However, Reality in California Will Not Sugar Coat Tax
This is a story Not related to sugary snacks. Instead, it is connected to sugary drinks. This side story happened this summer in California. California passed a law that bans cities and counties from creating new soda taxes until 2030. “Now two large healthcare provider organizations have teamed up to file a 2020 ballot measure to levy a statewide tax on sugar-sweetened drinks.”
Both the California Medical Association (CMA) and the California Dental Association (CDA) are dismayed by this. They had structured the tax to provide $1.7 billion in revenue. So, these are taxes which would go to healthcare programs. Likewise, they framed the tax bill to constitutionally preserve the right of California’s local communities. Each community would be able to make their own decisions regarding future soda taxes. But the effort failed.
About that Tax Freeze
All the questions the proposed legislation would provoke are now moot. The new law freezes the current taxes in place for the next ten years. California doctors and dentists have not given up, however. They will escalate efforts to educate citizens and lawmakers about the dangers of health and dental risked posed by “Big Soda.”
“Big Soda may have won a cynical short-term victory. But, for the sake of our children’s health, we cannot and will not allow them to undermine California’s long-term commitment to healthcare and disease prevention.” This statement was released by Dustin Corcoran, CMA chief executive officer, and Carrie Gordon, CDA chief strategy officer, in a recent press release.
In Praise of Mexico’s Progress with Sugary Drink Taxes
Mexico has led the world in recognizing the sugary dangers. These dangers apply to overall health and dental health. “Mexico’s government passed a 1-peso per liter sales tax on sugar-sweetened beverages that went into effect on the first day of January 2014.” The tax amounted roughly to a 10 percent price increase on soft drinks. This is “half of what health advocates had been calling for.”
Of course, they hoped to get their citizens to consume fewer soft drinks. In pursuit of empirical evidence, they employed two agencies to analyze the effects of the tax:
• Researchers from Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de Salud Publica, a federal health agency compared before and after results.
• Likewise, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill compared sales data for the time periods before and after the tax was implemented. Their study covered more than 6,000 households across 53 large Mexican cities.
Conclusions from the Amazing Sugary Drink Tax Study in Mexico
Statistics showed that sugary beverage sales fell an average of 6 percent in 2014. Likewise, the decline accelerated over time. It reached a 12 percent drop by the year’s end, December 2014. The New York Times reported, “The decline was seen across all socioeconomic groups. But it was greatest among people who were low income.” Their consumption had fallen 17 percent.
Here’s the amazing discovery. Bottled water sales actually rose 4 percent.
The major conclusions were obvious. And we are sure the children benefited most from the tax in terms of less tooth decay and reduced obesity.
Terrific Take-Aways Concerning Tax and Sugary Snacks
Now we can only wonder when countries will enact the same type of taxation as Mexico and the UK. This includes sugary beverages and snacks.
Perhaps a little tax will help keep tooth decay—and obesity-away. However, even taxes can’t guarantee that your child will consume less sugar. We know that. We only hope that advocacy and increasing nutritional education will help families understand the power of just saying “no” to sugary snacks. If you’ve ever heard the cry of a child with advanced dental decay, you would understand.
Once again, Dentistry for Children thanks you for reading our blog. And we wish you happy, healthy and sensible snacks instead of the processed sugary snacks that dazzle our children’s eyes.