Highlighted in bright orange are countries that have implemented a levy on sugary products. Highlighted in light orange are countries that will be implementing a levy on sugary products within the next year.
The World Health Organization recommends limiting the intake of free sugars to maximum 10% of total energy intake, and even better, to less than 5%. In most countries average consumption is significantly higher. Intake of sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, dental caries and cardiovascular disease. Excessive consumption therefore also imparts a substantial burden on health systems.
Levies on sugary products work, and can either act as a price signal to consumers, or incentivise industry to reformulate products to avoid paying the levy. Studies suggest that a most effective levy rate would result in a 20% price difference. Few countries seem to attain this level, however. Levies, as they generate revenues, can be earmarked for specific public investments. Such levies also have the potential to reduce health inequities.
Countries with a levy on sugary products
Belgium – sugary drinks
Croatia – sugary drinks
Finland – sugary drinks
France – sugary drinks
Hungary – sugary drinks and certain other sugary products
Ireland – sugary drinks
Latvia – sugary drinks
Norway – sugary drinks and certain other sugary products
Portugal – sugary drinks
United Kingdom – sugary drinks
Estonia – a sugary drinks tax was adopted in 2017, but did not come into force.
Italy – adopted, but postponed due to COVID-19, will be implemented from 1st January 2021 on sugary drinks
Poland – adopted, will be implemented from 1st January 2021 on sugary drinks
Spain – Tax increase proposed from 2021 on sugary drinks
Data source & further reading