Taxing sugary soft drinks may unintentionally drive up the consumption of alcohol, according to research published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. Certain U.S. cities and several countries, including the United Kingdom, have passed such taxes in an effort to cut down on sugar consumption.
Studies show that high-sugar foods and drinks are largely to blame for rising rates of obesity, diabetes, and other health problems. But many types of alcohol – including beer and wine – contain similar or even greater amounts of sugar than soft drinks, and alcohol can have other harmful effects on the body as well.
For this study, researchers looked at household spending on food and drink in 2012 and 2013 from a sample of about 32,000 homes in the U.K. They grouped approximately 6 million drinks purchased during this time into high-sugar beverages (8g+/100 mL), medium-sugar beverages (5 to 8g/100 mL), and low-sugar beverages (under 5g). According to the researchers, their findings indicate that a price increase for medium-sugar drinks could reduce the overall consumption of sugary drinks most effectively, and an increase in sugar-free or low-sugar drinks would be least effective at reducing consumption.