Looks like sugar-consumption taxing & labeling are effective at curbing unhealthy habits

Remember the commotion around the sugar tax awhile back? Yeah, we didn’t know whether it would be useful and whether it’s necessary or not. It turns out sugar regulations help us curb sugar consumption.

A University of Waterloo study tracked purchasing behaviors of 3,500 people over the age of 13. Fruit juice, in particular, gets hit hardest.

“Governments don’t need to wait to implement these policies; they’re already used in many other parts of the world and are successful in helping people make healthier food choices,” said Rachel Acton, a doctoral student in the School of Public Health & Health Systems. “Many people don’t realize that fruit juice can have just as much sugar, or more, as regular pop, and these types of drinks aren’t always included in a tax when evidence shows that maybe they should be.”

The study participants purchase foods and snacks in a variety of scenarios, with different sugar taxation levels and using various labels that warned them of the nutritional content in the food.

When tax levels increased, and when labels displayed the amount of sugar, saturated fat, and salt in the products, the study participants opted for healthier and cheaper options.

“One interesting finding was that the ‘high in’ labels proved to be most effective at encouraging purchases with less sugar, sodium, saturated fat and calories,” said Acton. “This is the type of labeling system the Canadian government is considering, and has been already implemented in Chile.”

These findings indicate that practices like taxes on sugar and prominent nutritional labels can reduce the prevalence of unhealthy diets and the chronic diseases that result from them.