The fight against sugar-sweetened beverages has been going on for a while. Is the next battle against sweet snacks?
Yesterday we reported on a new study published in the British Medical Journal titled “Are sweet snacks more sensitive to price increases than sugar-sweetened beverages: analysis of British food purchase data.”
Its objective: To look at the potential benefits of increasing the costs of cookies, cakes and other snacks.
It reads: “Taxing sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) is now advocated, and implemented, in many countries as a measure to reduce the purchase and consumption of sugar to tackle obesity. To date, there has been little consideration of the potential impact that such a measure could have if extended to other sweet foods, such as confectionery, cakes and biscuits that contribute more sugar to the diet than SSBs. The objective of this study is to compare changes in the demand for sweet snacks and SSBs arising from potential price increases.”
The issue is important for well-run workplace wellness programs, where nutrition and healthy eating can help reduce obesity — especially important for individuals managing chronic disease.
Among the findings:
- “Policies to increase the price of sweet snacks could have a greater impact than that seen thus far for SSBs, not least because chocolate and confectionery alone contribute a similar quantity of sugar per person per day as SSBs in our sample.”
- “Moreover this analysis suggests they have stronger associations with reductions in other categories of foods and SSBs (ie, complementary relationships), creating a cumulative positive multiplier effect.”
- “This appears to be most pronounced in the low and middle-income groups, as would be expected.”
So could addressing the cost of sweet snacks actually make a difference in personal intake?
The authors conclude: “Analysis presented here based on data from Great Britain suggests that extending fiscal policies to include sweet snacks could lead to larger public health benefits, both directly by reducing purchasing and therefore consumption of these foods, and indirectly by reducing demand for other snack foods and indeed SSBs. Although some uncertainty remains, the associations observed in this analysis are sufficiently robust to suggest that policies—and research—concerning the use of fiscal measures to reduce intake of free sugars and improve diet quality should consider extending beyond SSBs to include the more frequently consumed sugar-based snacks including cakes, biscuits and, especially, chocolate and confectionery.”