Even before the sugar tax could be seriously discussed, the cry of indignation about “paternalism” echoed through the republic again. In the case of the FDP and large parts of the Union, such reflexes, which are said to serve the freedom of the citizen, are part of the political self-definition, even if behind it there is more likely to be a cool, business-friendly policy. But it is surprising that even the new Greens are so afraid of being called a “banning party” that they don’t want anything to do with a sugar tax.
More and more overweight
But what actually speaks against a tax on oversweetened foods? Even the toughest food lobbyist no longer denies that too much sugar is harmful. The number of overweight people is increasing almost everywhere in the world, and children are often affected. In Germany, every fourth adult and every tenth young person is considered obese. Cardiovascular diseases and diabetes are the results. Already today, 6.7 million people in Germany suffer from type 2 diabetes, and the trend is rising.
Living healthier saves money
From an economic point of view, every means should be right to protect the health of the citizens. In Germany, 70 percent of health care expenditures are due to lifestyle-related illnesses – including not only poor nutrition but also lack of exercise and illnesses caused by stress.
One thing is certain: a lot of money could be saved if everyone lived a little healthier. In addition to many other measures, a sugar tax can also contribute to this.
The example of Great Britain
Would you like an example? Such a tax will be introduced in Great Britain these days. For more than 50 grams of sugar per liter of drink, the equivalent of 20 cents is due. For more than 80 grams, the fee increases to 27 cents. For comparison: In Germany, Fanta and Sprite even contain 90 grams of sugar per liter. The reaction of the British beverage industry was not long in coming: Just in time for the introduction of the tax, the manufacturers lowered the sugar content in the sodas to just below the limit. But according to their interpretation, this of course has nothing to do with the new tax.
France, Ireland, Portugal, Belgium, Norway, Estonia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and South Africa have had similar experiences. There, too, there are special levies on drinks containing sugar, with the result that either sale has fallen or the manufacturers have changed their recipes.
Food traffic lights are also needed
Sure, the sugar tax alone will not solve the problem of obesity and lifestyle diseases. Equally important would be the introduction of traffic light labeling on all foods. Because there is too much sugar not only in cola and Co., but also in seemingly innocent foods – such as in crunchy muesli, fruit yogurt, or ready-made pizza. But the Union in particular has successfully prevented such a food traffic light so far. The alleged freedom of the citizen seems to be more important to large parts of politics than the right to information, protection, and education.