Consumers in favour of sugar tax

Wednesday, 18 March, 2020

Consumers in favour of sugar tax

Researchers from the Marketing for Food and Agricultural Products research group at the University of Göttingen in Germany have conducted an online survey, asking more than 1000 consumers about the implementation of nutritional policy action in Germany. Despite an increase in diet-related illnesses, German policymakers, in comparison with their international counterparts, have not implemented political interventions to support healthy eating habits among its citizens. The concern is that serious interventions, such as imposing taxes or bans, will be unpopular. However, findings from the online survey, which have been published in the scientific journal Nutrients, reveal that there is clear support for nutritional policy action in Germany.

“Our research shows that nutrition policy has broad support among the population, but that this support is based on different motives,” said Kristin Jürkenbeck, PhD student and first author of the study.

Respondents were asked about various measures currently under discussion, such as advertising bans on children’s food with high sugar content, or sugar and soft drinks taxes. The respondents were selected to ensure that they matched averages within the German population in terms of age, gender, education and region. Over 60% of respondents were in favour of nutritional policy action by the state, with over 25% indifferent to nutritional policy and 11% fundamentally opposed to it. Depending on the policy, approval ratings ranged between 34% and 79%.

The survey also revealed that people’s opinion about food policies does not necessarily depend on how difficult it is for them to eat a healthy diet. The assumption that people with a sweet tooth, for instance, are more likely to oppose a sugar tax is not confirmed. Approximately 17% of respondents who admitted to such difficulties were in support of state controls. However, 12% rejected state controls. Of the respondents who maintained a healthy diet, 33% were in favour of nutritional measures, but of those, 12% rejected such regulation.

“So far, politicians have often rejected the calls from medical organisations and health insurance companies for decisive action in the fight against unhealthy eating by pointing to a lack of social acceptance. This generalisation is too sweeping,” said Dr Anke Zühlsdorf, Project Manager of the study.

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