Will the Implementation of a Sugar Tax Reduce Obesity Levels? An Insight from Scotland

Full Reference: Gordon Moore, Amanda Young, Abeer Hassan and Kieran James (2019). “Will the Implementation of a Sugar Tax Reduce Obesity Levels? An Insight from Scotland”. Indonesian Journal of Contemporary Management Research, Vol (1), No. (2). (Accepted on 24th April 2019).

21 Pages Posted: 31 May 2019

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Gordon Moore

University of West of Scotland

Amanda Young

University of West of Scotland

Abeer Hassan

University of West of Scotland

Kieran James

University of West of Scotland

Date Written: May 1, 2019

Abstract

Obesity places a strain on health services and leads to premature death due to its association with cardiovascular disease. Sugar-Sweetened Beverages (SSBs) have been identified by public health experts as a major contributor to sugar consumption and a crucial factor in childhood obesity. The Soft Drinks Industry Levy (SDIL) is a key part of the UK Governments childhood obesity strategy and the main purpose of this study is to assess whether the introduction of the SDIL or sugar tax can be successful in reducing the obesity levels in Scotland. As it was identified that obesity levels were higher in low socio-economic areas, this research has focussed on a survey of residents from North Ayrshire, which is a low socio-economic area in rural Scotland. A questionnaire was developed and collected from 64 people (32 males and 32 females). The purpose of the questionnaire was primarily to identify the consumers who may be directly affected by a sugar tax, then question them on their attitudes, values and beliefs concerning the SDIL. Previous literature examined consisted of research undertaken in America, Mexico, and Hungary, with a focus on age (Briggs et al. 2013) and household income. Prior sugar tax studies carried out assessed groups based on age and household income. However, there are few relevant studies based on gender. To evaluate if a sugar tax in Scotland would be successful in reducing obesity levels, it was identified that there was a significant gap in existing literature. This study has aimed to offer an insight into the current gap within academic literature by surveying consumers in Scotland by analysing gender, age and household income. This study also adds a contribution to this field of research as the survey presents a significant difference in consumer behaviour, knowledge, awareness and values concerning obesity and the differential rates of sugar tax between males and females in Scotland. The results of the survey provide an insight into the potential effects of the SDIL but it is unclear whether it will have any significant impact on obesity levels within Scotland. Whilst higher tax rates may have a better probability of decreasing demand for SSBs, it is considered essential that lower income groups access to healthy options are increased, making the healthy choice easier for consumers; better education about obesity and the associated risks to health are delivered to children from an earlier age to increase awareness; more robust campaigns are targeted at most unaware group, identified by this research as the males. This study has implications for policy makers, the soft drinks industry and the academic arena as it demonstrates that differing levels of awareness, different values and beliefs between different socio-demographic groups that have the potential to impact upon policies that are attempting to change consumer behaviour as with the UK SDIL. Limitations concerning the results of the study are the location, as North Ayrshire is only a small area within Scotland; the size of the sample surveyed; limited access to academic literature; and that consumer responses may not be an accurate portrayal of consumer behaviour. Future researchers could gain further insights from increasing the sample size of people surveyed within Scotland at the point when the UK SDIL commences as this may provide a more accurate response from the consumers pertaining to their actual behaviour as opposed to their potential behaviour.

Keywords: Obesity, Scotland, Soft Drinks Industry Levy, Sugar Sweetened Beverages, Sugar Tax

JEL Classification: Health Behavior

Suggested Citation

Moore, Gordon and Young, Amanda and Hassan, Abeer and James, Kieran, Will the Implementation of a Sugar Tax Reduce Obesity Levels? An Insight from Scotland (May 1, 2019). Full Reference: Gordon Moore, Amanda Young, Abeer Hassan and Kieran James (2019). “Will the Implementation of a Sugar Tax Reduce Obesity Levels? An Insight from Scotland”. Indonesian Journal of Contemporary Management Research, Vol (1), No. (2). (Accepted on 24th April 2019)., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3384855

Gordon Moore

University of West of Scotland ( email )

United Kingdom

Amanda Young

University of West of Scotland ( email )

United Kingdom

Abeer Hassan (Contact Author)

University of West of Scotland ( email )

United Kingdom

Kieran James

University of West of Scotland ( email )

United Kingdom

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