What will the sugar tax mean for you?

Details of the long-awaited ‘sugar tax’ were finalised in the recent Budget. But what does it mean for you…and our nation’s teeth?


It’s long been known that sugar is bad for your teeth. But scientists have recently linked high sugar intake to obesity – as well as other diseases such as diabetes.

That’s why Chancellor Philip Hammond confirmed in the latest Budget that there will be a tax on sugary drinks coming into effect from April 2018. So, what can we expect?

The sugary drinks tax: what it means

Drinks that contain more than 5g of sugar per 100ml will see a price hike of 18p per litre. Those with 8g and more will be taxed at 24p per litre. This will also hit alcoholic drinks containing an alcohol volume of up to 1.2%.

But will this have a positive effect on our nation’s teeth?

Expected outcomes

The aim of a tax on sugary drinks is two-fold: to put people off buying them in the hopes they’ll choose healthier alternatives, with the eventual outcome that manufacturers will use less sugar in their drinks to avoid paying the tax.

But will the sugar tax work?

According to a recent study, it’s estimated the sugar tax could reduce instances of tooth decay by 270,000 every year.

A similar policy has also had positive results across the Atlantic too. In Mexico, a tax on sugary drinks has led to an average 7.6% drop in purchases over its initial two-year period.

But while we think that it’s great the UK government is following suit, we also know this is a far more complex problem.

Why? Because sugar is addictive, and some people – in particular adults with more disposable income – will likely not be deterred by paying a higher price for their favourite sugary drinks.

In fact, we think this is more likely to impact cash-strapped families. While this may be unfair, it might also help to curb childhood tooth decay, which a quarter of children currently suffer from, if parents opt for cheaper no-added-sugar alternatives instead.

Are there any exceptions to the sugar tax?

It’s important to realise that pure fruit juices won’t be taxed because they don’t contain added sugar, and neither will milk-based drinks thanks to their high calcium content.

There’s also no mention of ‘luxury’ coffees which can include up to 20 teaspoons of sugar.

Yet we know that prolonged exposure of the tooth enamel to sugar – whether natural or added, in drinks or in foods – causes tooth erosion.

Just because a drink might be exempt from the sugar tax, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a ‘healthy’ or sugar-free choice.

Our advice? When you read a label, remember this helpful formula:

4g of sugar = 1 teaspoon

The recommended daily intake for an adult is 7 teaspoons

So if you’re looking at the amount of sugar in a drink or food, ask yourself if you’d choose to eat that many teaspoons of sugar. You might find the item appears less tempting!

Ready to book your next dental check-up in Notting Hill? Contact our friendly reception staff at Number 18 Dental today.

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