The ‘sugar tax’ in simple terms!

Sugar intake is directly linked to diabetes, obesity and in turn our oral health therefore every little reduction will have an overall beneficial effect on your health. Worryingly, tooth decay has been the number one reason for hospital admissions among young children and effects a quarter of all youngsters, it is a costly problem to fix and sugar unfortunately is the cause!

The British Dental Association strongly backed the Government’s decision to introduce a ‘soft drinks industry levy’ basically a sugar tax! Manufacturers were charged either 18p or 24p per 100ml depending on the sugar content which is then passed onto the consumer.  It was hoped higher prices would deter consumers from buying the most sugary drinks. The tax also encouraged manufacturers to reduce the amount of sugar in their drinks to avoid higher charges.

The tax is to help directly tackle child obesity with hopes for a dental collateral benefit.

So…. the question is since this was introduced has it had the desired effect?

Professor Martin White said ‘the soft drinks levy appears to have led to a reduction in the amount of sugar that people are purchasing in soft drinks without impacting on the overall sales. Likely due to manufacturers reformulating their products and cutting the sugar in their drinks as well as consumers choosing lower sugar alternatives’.

‘This represents a win, win for public health and the food industry; improving people’s health with no detrimental effect on the volume of soft drinks being sold’.

In the first six months the tax raised £154 million helping to fund physical education activities in primary schools, the Healthy Pupils Capital Fund and providing breakfast clubs in over 1700 schools nationally putting the tax to such a positive use.

Sales of the highest tier sugary drinks went down by a huge 44% following the tax being introduced.

Let’s talk facts!

There are nine teaspoons of sugar in a 330ml can of cola, instantly taking children above their recommended maximum for the day. A five year old should have no more than 19g of sugar in a day, but a typical can of cola can have 35g.

There are hidden sugars in all sorts of food and drinks that you wouldn’t expect, sending your daily intake through the roof. Whilst the sugar tax has certainly proven to be successful, sugary drinks are only a tiny contribution and making healthy dietary choices can have huge health benefits overall.

Check out our list of ways to reduce your daily sugar intake

  • Enjoy tooth-friendly snacks such as fresh fruit, vegetables, hummus, cheese, nuts and breadsticks
  • Try to cook meals and sauces from scratch so that you know exactly what you’ve put into them
  • Cut back on treats such as chocolates, sweets, cakes, biscuits, sugary drinks and desserts only having them occasionally
  • Unexpected items can contain high levels of sugar, such as pasta sauces, soups, ready meals, cereals, yoghurts, crisps and ketchup, so always check the labels and look for hidden sugars on packaging labels- watching out for ingredients including maltose, dextrose, glucose, fructose, sucrose, corn syrup, hydrolysed starch and molasses
  • Fruit juices, smoothies and dried fruit are also high in sugar even though people think they are nutritionally healthy. Enjoy a small quantity in moderation and as part of a meal
  • Reduce your intake of refined carbohydrates such as white bread, white pasta, and crisps, and swap for wholemeal versions
  • Be mindful of your alcohol intake and watch out for high sugar options such as cider, alcopops, dessert wines, and anything with sugary mixers

Make these healthier choices and your waistline as well as your teeth and gums will certainly thank you for it!

For more advice on sugar intake or the impact on your diet in general, arrange an appointment with one of our Hygiene Therapists who would be happy to help:

Hygiene Appointment – Kingswood Parks Dental (