A commission for the canton of Geneva’s government supports a tax on added sugar to fight obesity, according to the newspaper Le Temps.
Bertrand Buchs and Delphine Bachmann, two elected officials active in the medical sector, are behind the initiative.
The text required to implement the tax, which takes aim at added sugar, is likely to be put to a government vote in March 2020. The money collected would be spent on raising awareness of the damaging health effects of sugar.
Some are skeptical of the impact of sugar taxes. In Geneva, it is easy to shop in the neighbouring canton of Vaud or in France, although France introduced an added sugar tax in 2018.
Unfortunately, many sugar taxes, like the one in France, are narrowly focused on added sugar. But sugar, even added sugar, comes from fruit and vegetables, things we are told are healthy.
To clear up the confusion. the World Health Organisation (WHO) came up with the concept of “free sugar” versus “intrinsic sugar”. Free sugar is any sugar that has been released from its natural packaging. This includes “sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates”. So the sugar in fruit juice is as harmful as the sugar found in soda, according to WHO.
It is important to note that the WHO says “there is no reported evidence linking the consumption of the intrinsic sugars found in whole fruit and vegetables to adverse health effects”. So, according to WHO, the sugar in fruit juice is like the sugar in soda, but whole fruit and vegetables, despite containing sugar, are good for you – WHO advice on sugar can be viewed here.
The difference between whole fruit and fruit juice appears to relate to complex differences in way the body processes the two and the calorific concentration from juicing – a glass of orange juice, which contains most of the fruit’s calories, is far less filling than eating the five whole oranges required to make it.