Sweetened soda and other drinks with a lot of sugar are very attractive. They are enjoyed by adults, especially children. In October, the State Duma adopted in the first reading a bill introducing an excise tax on sugar-containing drinks. If the bill passes the second and third readings, the excise tax will come into force on January 1, 2023. Beverages where sugar is more than 5 g per 100 ml fall under the bill. But the excise does not apply to juices and juice-containing drinks, nectars and fruit drinks. Basically, sweet carbonated drinks fall under the bill.

Also, excisable goods include drinks made using drinking or mineral water, with a volume fraction of ethyl alcohol of not more than 0.5%, and drinks based on alcohol-containing raw materials with a volume fraction of ethyl alcohol of not more than 1.2%.

These revenues are planned to be directed to the fight against diabetes. This amount has already been included by the Ministry of Finance in the state revenue project for the coming years.”

 

The Russian Association of Producers of Juices, Water and Drinks opposes the new bill. Its President Maxim Novikov made a statement that the excise tax will negatively affect the situation in the industry.

 

The issue of introducing an excise tax on sweet soda has been repeatedly raised by the government. For the first time, the Ministry of Finance came up with this initiative in 2016 with the support of the Ministry of Health. The main medical department of the country believes that the excise tax will become an effective economic measure to combat obesity and diabetes among the population.

And it’s not just about money. And the fact that sugar-containing drinks are very unhealthy.

What are the dangers of sugary drinks

“An excess of added sugar in the diet significantly increases the risk of developing serious chronic diseases: obesity, caries, heart disease, type 2 diabetes,” recalls Svetlana Pavlichenko.

The World Health Organization recommends reducing your sugar intake to 10% of your total calorie intake. This recommendation does not apply to sugar naturally found in fruits and vegetables, but to sugar added by the manufacturer in the manufacture of beverages and foods.

“Sugar is today the most accessible and cheapest legal toxin,” Svetlana Pavlichenko is sure. – Drinks and foods with added sugar are especially dangerous for children. For a child to want to try something new, he needs to offer it an average of 13 times. To make him want sugar again, it is enough for him to try it once. We should strive to reduce sugar intake in every possible way, replace added sugars in food and drinks with complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, and try to change the taste preferences of children to maintain their health.”

Sugar has no nutritional value other than energy. Its consumption causes a short-term surge of energy and euphoric sensations, which are replaced by a breakdown and sharp bouts of hunger. Sugar dissolved in the liquid is especially dangerous, it causes a sharp increase in blood glucose levels, which leads to increased production of insulin.

According to Svetlana Pavlichenko, a constant excess of sugar in the diet leads to the development of insulin resistance: body tissues lose sensitivity to the hormone insulin, which is necessary for proper glucose metabolism. This leads to overweight and obesity and greatly increases the risk of type 2 diabetes.

“It’s scary to imagine: one glass of sweet soda contains 35 grams of sugar: that’s six teaspoons,” says Svetlana Pavlichenko. – Drinking a glass of sugar syrup of such a concentration is physically impossible: the gag reflex will work. But gas bubbles and special additives trick our taste buds into reducing the sweetness.”

How does diabetes start?

Type 2 diabetes mellitus is a diet-related disease characterized by impaired glucose metabolism. In a healthy body, the entry of glucose into the blood serves as a signal for the production of insulin. This pancreatic hormone acts as a “key” that opens cell membranes to glucose, where it is used for energy production.

In insulin resistance, cells stop responding to insulin, and sugar remains in the blood while the body’s tissues lack energy. Undigested glucose destroys the walls of blood vessels from the inside, causing circulatory disorders. In the absence of treatment and correction of diet and lifestyle, this leads to serious complications: heart attacks, diabetic blindness, loss of limbs as a result of gangrene, kidney failure.

“Obesity is another severe consequence of excess free sugar in the diet,” notes Svetlana Pavlichenko. – It not only significantly worsens the quality of life, but also provokes the development of many chronic diseases: cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer. Modern medicine treats obesity as a separate disease requiring treatment.

Situationin world

Children are particularly affected by sugary drinks. Studies show that children who regularly consume sugary soda are significantly more likely to be overweight or obese. According to Rosstat, in 2021, the average Russian consumed four times the recommended amount of sugar – 31 kg per year against the norm of 8 kg. These data refer only to household consumption, excluding food in public catering.

“The prevalence of diabetes in our country has become rampant. At the end of 2021, 4.8 million patients were registered in the country, which is 3% of the country’s population, Svetlana Pavlichenko warns. “Research claims that the real incidence is about 9 million.”

The global epidemic of obesity has not spared Russia either. According to the National Medical Research Center for Endocrinology of the Ministry of Health of Russia, at the end of 2022, about 30% of the adult population of the country suffered from obesity. The growth rate of obesity among children and adolescents is also shocking: over the past 40 years, it has increased 4.5 times.

Overseas experience

The introduction of excises on sugar-containing drinks is not a Russian invention. This measure to combat diabetes and obesity is used in many countries and has already proven its effectiveness.

As Svetlana Pavlichenko notes, the main consumers of sweet soda are children and low-income people. They also suffer the most from diabetes and obesity, which has already received the name “poor man’s disease.” Therefore, increasing the price of soda helps to reduce its consumption. For example, in Spain, a tax on sweet soda resulted in a 17% drop in sales over three years.

“In order to avoid excise duty, manufacturers are changing the recipe, reducing the sugar content in drinks,” Svetlana Pavlichenko is sure. – In the UK, it has been calculated that after the introduction of the “sugar excise”, the consumption of calories from sweet soda decreased by 6.5 thousand kcal per year per inhabitant of the country, due to a decrease in sugar. As a result, the actual revenue from the excise to the budget amounted to only 33 million pounds instead of the planned 530, but the main goal – protecting the population from excess sugar – was achieved.

“Sugar taxes” are not the only way the state can fight sugar addiction. Some countries, such as Norway and Singapore, have introduced restrictions on advertising of sweets and soda in places where children can see it: on public transport, during children’s TV shows, when children’s content is broadcast on the Internet.