This website is now part of Public Health Scotland. Publications released after 16 March 2020 are now published on the Public Health Scotland website.
Improving health
Previously NHS Health Scotland

NHS Health Scotland welcomes the introduction of the sugar levy. Sixty five per cent of people in Scotland are overweight or obese. This has significant health impacts, and can lead to type 2 diabetes, cardio vascular disease and several cancers. Fiscal policies (like taxation or levies) can be an effective way to change the environment we live in so that it is easier to make healthy choices, and maintain a healthy weight.


Sugar consumption contributes significantly to weight gain. On average adults in Scotland consume 14.1% of their daily energy intake from sugar – and people living in poorer areas consume significantly more (15.1% of daily energy intake). This is a lot more than is recommended, the Scottish Dietary Goal of daily energy intake from sugar is 5%. Nearly a quarter (22.3%) of our sugar intake in comes from sugary drinks. Reducing our sugar intake from fizzy drinks is therefore important if we are to reduce the levels of obesity in Scotland.


We know that price affects purchasing and that purchasing affects consumption. By reducing the amount we buy, and by encouraging manufacturers to change the amount of sugar in their product, placing a sugar levy on fizzy drinks helps reduce the amount of sugar we take in. This can help the people of Scotland maintain a healthy weight.


Deborah Shipton, Public Health Intelligence Advisor at NHS Health Scotland said:


“The way we live today – high car use, sedentary jobs, easy access and more exposure to and marketing of cheap, high calorie food and drinks – makes it so much easier, and normal, to eat and drink too much and to do too little activity. This is why most of us in Scotland are overweight. To change this, we need to change the environment that we live in, and consider how food is advertised, promoted, priced and labelled.


“NHS Health Scotland believes bold action that seeks to do this is essential if we are to support more people to maintain a healthy weight. That is why we support the sugar levy. And the public do too: when asked, 62% supported a tax on sugary fizzy drinks.


“More than 82% of the public also support action that will make the food they like, better for them; which policies like the sugar levy can encourage.


“With more people overweight than of a healthy weight, we all have a role to play in reducing the levels of obesity in Scotland. The sugar levy is an important first step, as part of a wider package of policy measures to address Scotland’s poor diet”.



For more information on obesity and health inequalities visit our web pages on obesity