Sugar tax: George Osborne's soft drinks levy has been slammed again after new data suggests soft drink sugar consumption is falling

Francesca Washtell
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Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Osborne samples chocolate during a tour of Small Business Saturday Christmas Fair at the Treasury in London
George Osborne introduced the sugar tax in the March Budget (Source: Getty)

George Osborne's sugar tax has been slammed again today after new data released as part of the National Diet and Nutrition Survey showed the consumption of sugar from soft drinks is falling.

In all but one demographic group, men aged 19-64, in the NDNS research, soft drinks are now a smaller contributor to sugar intake than in 2008.

There is "no reason for a punitive sugar tax", the TaxPayers' Alliance said in response to the new figures, which also found that all children between the ages of 11 and 18 had reduced their consumption of sugar from soft drinks by 3.2 percentage points.

For boys between the ages of four and 18, consumption fell four per cent, while for girls between the ages of four and 18, consumption of non-milk intrinsic sugars (present in soft drinks) fell 2.5 per cent.

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In women aged between 19 and 64, consumption dipped 2.1 per cent.

Age Group Soft drink consumption contribution to non-milk intrinsic sugars intake (2008-2014)
Boys aged 4 to 18 - 4.0 per cent
Men aged 19 to 64 1.6 per cent
Men 65+ - 2.7 per cent
Girls aged 4 to 18 - 2.5 per cent
Women aged 19 to 64 - 2.1 per cent
Women 65+ - 3.3 per cent
Total aged 19 to 64 - 0.3 per cent

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John O'Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said:

This new data confirms what the evidence has been showing for some time - that there is simply no need for a badly thought through sugar tax that will have no discernible shift on people's diet or lifestyle choices. Last change will happen via a long-term cultural shift, not by burdening the poorest families with a higher cost of living.

This is year another example of irresponsible meddling from the High Priests of the Nanny State, introducing entirely unnecessary complications into an impenetrable tax system and pushing up the cost of everyday products for hard-pressed families.

Last month, the government launched its consultation of the soft drinks levy - also known as the sugar tax - despite scrapping other sugar reduction measures in its long-awaited childhood obesity strategy.

The levy, which was a surprise announcement in the March Budget, will place two bands of tax on sugary drinks. One band will be for total sugar content above five grams per 100 millilitres; a second, higher band will apply to the most sugary drinks with more than eight grams per 100 millilitres.

Since its announcement, the TaxPayers' Alliance has been among the most vocal opponents of the tax, calling it a "bungled" policy that will hit the poorest families hardest and arguing evidence from Mexico has shown it will not significantly reduce calorie intake.

The Treasury has been contacted for comment.

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