Taxing Unhealthy Foods as Motivation

The UK did a Study, here’s What they Found

As nutritionists encourage us to cut down on sugar and avoid fast food as much as possible, considerations have been discussed that might provide incentive for leaving bad eating habits behind. In the UK, studies have been conducted to gauge the receptiveness of taxing unhealthy foods.

Younger Brits seem most open to avoiding junk foods, with 53% of 16-34 year-olds declaring a tax obligation would certainly convince them, compared to 42% of those over 45.

Geographically, Londoners are believe a tax would make them cut back by 53%, compared to 38% of those who live in Scotland.

The statistics are encouraging, however there is still the perception that healthier foods are more expensive, making the transition more challenging. People are still enjoying their fast food alternatives despite healthier recommendations.

Sugar Tax

Some time ago, here in the United States, we began to downgrade the size of drinks served in the fast food industry in an attempt to decrease general sugar intake. In the UK, they established a tax on sodas containing more than 5g of sugar per 100ml.

Subsequent studies have reflected that 75% of customers assert that much easier dietary details on product packaging might aid to motivate them in making much healthier food choices.

Additionally, that 73% of customers think incentives for making much healthier options (such as grocery store incentive factors) would certainly motivate much healthier eating habits.

Although Brits are very aware of the importance of practicing healthy and balanced eating habits as well as the need to eliminate sugar as much as possible, most British adults are obese or at least overweight. Consequently, Britain is placed as the 6th fattest country worldwide.

The Carrot is More Effective Than the Stick

carrot and the stick photo

Photo by nist6dh

It seems that, when it comes to motivating people to make better nutrition choices, using a motivational approach works better than an educational approach. Most know what they should be doing, but hesitate if it costs them financially. Rewards hold more sway on the consumer’s decision making process.


sweetner photo

Photo by theimpulsivebuy

Reducing sugar content in our diets is the first step to making significant change.

In the British study, it was discovered that 52% think reducing sugar is crucial when trying to find healthy and balanced foods, 45% feel reducing fat content is higher priority, 42% reducing salt content, and 39% reducing saturated fat material as highest.

66% said that getting used to less sweet flavors is a critical step in eliminating sugar.

It’s challenging to re-engineer high sugar items, a major obstacle for those who still can’t give them up. Changes to popular favorites in the past have met with consumer backlash, with articificial sweetners has not always been well received.

Natural sweetners aren’t seeing wide use in the UK as yet, however consumers are more receptive, so perhaps it will make a difference in the future. In the US, we have made natural sweetners available, however still haven’t seen it use standard fountains yet.

Change Needs to Happen

We are well aware of what changes need to be made in our diets to live healthier, happier lives. At the moment, our addiction to sugar is offering the primary obstacle we all need to overcome. It would be in our best interests to implement what we know we should before we are saddled with a sugar tax to keep us in line.


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