Maybe countries should go beyond taxes on sugary beverages and consider a similar tax on high-sugar snacks as well.

New studies support this line of thought, as research shows that in countries where consumption of soda is not very high, there is still a high incidence of obesity due to the immoderate intake of sugary snacks.

For instance, in the United Kingdom, the annual per capita consumption of sugary beverages is 78 liters and ranking it 19th in the world. This is half the per capita consumption in the United States where individuals imbibe over 154 liters per year. However, when it comes to overall sugar consumption the UK is in seventh position, while the US is in first place. So in the UK it makes sense to have a tax that goes beyond sugary beverages in a bid to reduce sugary consumption.

A new study examined what effect a broader tax on high-sugar snacks might have. In the study, researchers conclude that a 20 percent price increase on high-sugar snacks could lead to a 2 percent decrease in obesity in a year. Maybe the target is overly ambitious, but it is definitely a good start.

Among the taxed snacks they studied were candies including chocolate, biscuits and cakes. The effect of the price change on obesity was forecast to be the greatest on low-income households with weight issues and smallest in high-income households without those issues.

Countries with soda taxes have already seen some improvements in reducing obesity. And countries with taxes on high-sugar snacks such as Mexico and Hungary have also seen benefits. Researchers say a similar tax in other countries with high sugar consumption could also result in health benefits.

Mexico ranks fourth in the world with 136 liters of soda purchased by each person each year on average. Researchers have forecast a 2 percent reduction in obesity in 10 years from the 10 percent tax on sugar-sweetened beverages that went into effect in 2014. What is clear is that high-sugar taxes are changing what snacks people buy in Mexico and Hungary — and what manufacturers put into snacks.

Mexico’s tax on “nonessential energy-dense foods” caused people to buy 7 percent less junk food in the second year after the tax went into effect. Households that had previously purchased the most junk food saw the biggest declines. In Hungary, a study found that many people were either eating less of the taxed product or buying healthier products instead. In both countries, manufacturers began to “reformulate” their products to get below the high-sugar thresholds and avoid taxes.

Meanwhile, though, soda consumption continues to rise in poorer countries, as manufacturers begin using different marketing strategies. For instance, while taxes have raised prices for sugary products in some countries, manufacturers have compensated by lowering soda prices in some places. A 2017 study found that globally people could afford to buy 71 percent more Coca-Cola in 2016 than in 1990.

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