EURACTIV analyses the existing challenges policymakers face when it comes to sugar taxes in the EU, as well as the several initiatives that have been taken ranging from food reformulation to the school level.
The World Health Organisation's Independent Commission on Non-Communicable Diseases released a draft report on 10 May which - if implemented - will back away from its initial recommendation to introduce sugar taxes in order to tackle the so-called obesity epidemic. The final report will be released on 1 June.
The European soft drinks industry has committed to stop offering sugar-sweetened drinks for sale in secondary schools across Europe and to provide only no-calorie and low-calorie options by the end of 2018.
Europe’s soft drinks industry has announced it will stop selling sugary beverages in all schools in the European Union from late 2018. Health campaigners have welcomed the move but said more needs to be done to promote healthy eating in schools.
Over the years, sales and marketing restrictions have piled up on food, drinks and alcohol products. Some are now beginning to worry about a “slippery slope” where tobacco-style regulations – and taxation – are being applied to a whole range of consumer products in the name of public health objectives.
Studies from Britain and Mexico suggest reducing sugar in sweetened drinks or taxing it more to cut consumption can help people limit their calorie intake and lower their risk of developing diabetes, but not by much.
The lack of physical activity and unbalanced diets can lead to obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol levels, and chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and stroke. Today, more than half of Europeans are overweight or obese.
Multinational food, drink and alcohol companies are using strategies similar to those employed by the tobacco industry to undermine public health policies, health experts said on Tuesday (12 February).