New research has suggested that a tax on unhealthy food and drink, extending the current sugar levy, would result in almost half of all Brits cutting down on such items.



The study, by Mintel, reveals that 47 per cent of the UK would cut back - with 53 per cent of the 16-34 age group being deterred, and 42 per cent of those aged over 45.

Regionally, Londoners would be the biggest group to hold back on unhealthy food and drink at 53 per cent with less than four in 10 doing the same in Scotland.

The research firm also analysed whether so-called “nudge” techniques would work instead of taxation, and discovered three quarters of consumers would cut down if they understood nutritionally information on packaging better. This rose to 81 per cent in the 25 to 34 age group of Millennials.

Additionally, 73 per cent claim rewards for making healthy choices would encourage healthier eating. Over half (56 per cent) of Brits say they would cut down on unhealthy products if there were tighter restrictions on advertising unhealthy food as well.

Emma Clifford, associate director of food & drink at Mintel said: “Although Brits have ingrained healthy eating intentions and have upped their efforts to cut down on their sugar intake, the majority of British adults are overweight or obese and Britain is ranked the sixth fattest nation in the world.

“When considering how to encourage more healthy eating using the carrot or the stick approach to motivation, the rewards strategy is seen to hold more sway over consumers’ food choices.”

It comes as another study shows the sugar tax will not help those who already have a diet high in sugar.

The study, undertaken by three economists at the Institute for Fiscal Studies, claims the new levy may assist younger people and Millennials to switch to healthier, low or zero sugar alternatives. But it also says those who already consumer a large amount of sugar will not shift their choices to other beverages.

The research, which was revealed at the Royal Economic Society’s annual conference, models the effects of a 25p per litre levy. It showed Millennials and so-called Generation Z would reduce their sugar intake by around 80 per cent more than other groups.