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Sweetening the deal

A study linking public opinion in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom with their respective policy contexts with regards to curbing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs)

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Sweetening the deal

A study linking public opinion in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom with their respective policy contexts with regards to curbing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs)

Rechten: Alle rechten voorbehouden

Samenvatting

This study, titled Sweetening the Deal, considers policy interventions to reduce sugar consumption. The study addresses the research question: To what extent does public opinion in the Netherlands and in the United Kingdom either correspond or contrast to policy approaches being taken by their governments to curb consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs)? It does so first by reviewing the literature available on obesity and possible policy measures to combat it. There is a consensus that overweight and obesity rates are too high across EU Member States, and that these conditions considerably increase risk of negative health impacts. Sugar is recognized as a significant contributor to weight gain. As a source of excess sugar and ‘empty calories’, SSBs are a popular focus for new sugar consumption reduction policies. The literature review zooms in on the sub-questions: How do different states address the problem of too high sugar consumption? How have different stakeholders argued their cases related to a sugar tax? What are the expected vs. measured impacts of sugar related policies? By comparing policy contexts relating to SSB taxes across EU Member States, the effectiveness of different measures become visible. The United Kingdom, with its newly implemented Soft Drinks Industry Levy, and the Netherlands, which relies mainly on market negotiations with food and drink manufacturers to reduce sugar consumption, are selected as focus countries. Based on a lack of literature citing public opinion input, the current study sampled the Netherlands (115 respondents) and the UK populations (102 respondents) to investigate whether the opinions and concerns of the public correspond to their respective policy contexts. Respondents completed an online survey within a three-week period, and the qualitative and quantitative responses of each sample were then analyzed. Both populations significantly underestimated the prevalence of overweight. In addition, both populations attributed blame for overweight to multiple stakeholders, although the UK sample more strongly finds the individual culpable. This response calls for enhanced inter-stakeholder cooperation between government, schools, parents and manufacturers to reduce sugar consumption. Both samples’ majority opinion was that a healthy weight is mainly the product of childhood interventions. Hence, sugar consumption curbing policies should focus on childhood. The final stage of this report, the Conclusion and Policy Recommendations, suggest future measures to further reduce the problem of excessive sugar consumption in the two populations studied. There are concerns about the external validity of the sampling, so further research is required to provide a broader sample of both populations and cross-reference these findings. In addition, more research is needed into artificial sweeteners’ health impacts, and potentially extending the sugar tax to cover sugar substitutes. Both populations showed concern for the disproportionate effect a sugar tax could have on low income households, potentially limiting their food choices. Hence, poverty alleviation and increasing accessibility to unprocessed foods are also highly recommended.


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OrganisatieDe Haagse Hogeschool
AfdelingMO Europese Studies / European Studies
Jaar2019
TypeBachelor
TaalEngels

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