Tag Archives: well

The Guardian view on gene therapy: money well spent | Editorial

The NHS is to fund a very expensive treatment for a very rare but terrible childhood disorder that leaves babies condemned to life in a sterile bubble. This is a triumph for medical science but it should also provoke some deep and careful thought. The treatment in question, strimvelis, qualifies as the second most expensive drug ever put on the market (the only one more expensive was withdrawn due to lack of demand). A single dose costs nearly £500,000 plus VAT, and can only be administered in Milan, where the preparation is made. On the other hand, that one dose is literally life-saving, and as far as we now know, is the only treatment the disorder will ever need. At the rate that the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice), is prepared to pay for treatments of rare diseases – £100,000 a year of good life – this represents good value. The calculation may seem heartless, but it is unavoidable. Money spent on one patient is unavailable for all others. Someone, somehow, must decide who benefits.

Looked at purely as a medical advance, this is great. The babies born with this syndrome have two defective copies of a gene essential to the functioning of white blood cells. They are therefore unable to defend themselves against infection and unless kept in wholly sterile surroundings will die of a variety of horrible diseases and developmental disorders before they reach school age. Until now the only treatment was with a stem cell transplant, which was only effective in about three quarters of the cases, and relied on finding matched donors, who are rare. The new treatment removes defective stem cells and replaces their genes with properly functioning versions before returning these to the patients. Once these are incorporated into the bone marrow, they produce healthy white blood cells and the immune system functions as it should. This is how genetic medicine is supposed to work, but has not done reliably until now.

The decision to make the treatment available is clearly correct. But it is also irrelevant to the deeper and more urgent problems of the NHS, which are not caused by a shortage of miracle cures for rare and dramatic diseases. It is the common ills that almost all flesh is heir to that cost most when you add them up. Sorting out social care, making things work away from the headlines: those are the measures that will relieve the most suffering, but compared with medical miracles, political ones are harder.

The Guardian view on gene therapy: money well spent | Editorial

The NHS is to fund a very expensive treatment for a very rare but terrible childhood disorder that leaves babies condemned to life in a sterile bubble. This is a triumph for medical science but it should also provoke some deep and careful thought. The treatment in question, strimvelis, qualifies as the second most expensive drug ever put on the market (the only one more expensive was withdrawn due to lack of demand). A single dose costs nearly £500,000 plus VAT, and can only be administered in Milan, where the preparation is made. On the other hand, that one dose is literally life-saving, and as far as we now know, is the only treatment the disorder will ever need. At the rate that the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice), is prepared to pay for treatments of rare diseases – £100,000 a year of good life – this represents good value. The calculation may seem heartless, but it is unavoidable. Money spent on one patient is unavailable for all others. Someone, somehow, must decide who benefits.

Looked at purely as a medical advance, this is great. The babies born with this syndrome have two defective copies of a gene essential to the functioning of white blood cells. They are therefore unable to defend themselves against infection and unless kept in wholly sterile surroundings will die of a variety of horrible diseases and developmental disorders before they reach school age. Until now the only treatment was with a stem cell transplant, which was only effective in about three quarters of the cases, and relied on finding matched donors, who are rare. The new treatment removes defective stem cells and replaces their genes with properly functioning versions before returning these to the patients. Once these are incorporated into the bone marrow, they produce healthy white blood cells and the immune system functions as it should. This is how genetic medicine is supposed to work, but has not done reliably until now.

The decision to make the treatment available is clearly correct. But it is also irrelevant to the deeper and more urgent problems of the NHS, which are not caused by a shortage of miracle cures for rare and dramatic diseases. It is the common ills that almost all flesh is heir to that cost most when you add them up. Sorting out social care, making things work away from the headlines: those are the measures that will relieve the most suffering, but compared with medical miracles, political ones are harder.

Children raised by same-sex parents do as well as their peers, study shows

As the marriage equality vote draws toward its close, a comprehensive study published in the Medical Journal of Australia shows children raised in same-sex-parented families do as well as children raised by heterosexual couple parents.

The review of three decades of peer-reviewed research by Melbourne Children’s found children raised in same-sex-parented families did as well emotionally, socially and educationally as their peers.

The study’s findings will undercut one of the arguments that have been used by the No campaign: that children need both a mother and a father to flourish.

The study’s authors said their work aimed to put an end to the misinformation about children of same-sex couples and pointed out that the results had been replicated across independent studies in Australia and internationally.

Titled The Kids are OK: it is Discrimination Not Same-Sex Parents that Harms Children, the report comes as the postal survey voting period enters its final days. Votes must be received by the Australian Bureau of Statistics by November 7 and outcome will be announced on November 15. So far polling has indicated that the Yes campaign is headed for a convincing win.

Among the studies reviewed were the 2017 public policy research portal at Columbia Law School, which reviewed 79 studies investigating the wellbeing of children raised by gay or lesbian parents; a 2014 American Sociological Association review of more than 40 studies, which concluded that children raised by same-sex couples fared as well as other children across a number of wellbeing measures; and the Australian Institute of Family Studies’ 2013 review of the Australian and international research, which showed there was no evidence of harm.

“The findings of these reviews reflect a broader consensus within the fields of family studies and psychology. It is family processes – parenting quality, parental wellbeing, the quality of and satisfaction with relationships within the family) – rather than family structures that make a more meaningful difference to children’s wellbeing and positive development,” the researchers said.

The researchers said that studies reporting poor outcomes had been widely criticised for their methodological limitations. For example the widely quoted Regnerus study compared adults raised by a gay or lesbian parent in any family configuration with adults who were raised in stable, heterosexual, two-parent family environments, which may have distorted the outcomes.

However, the study did find that young people who expressed diversity in their sexual orientation or gender identity experienced some of the highest rates of psychological distress in Australia, said the study’s senior author, Prof Frank Oberklaid.

“Young LGBTIQ+ people are much more likely to experience poor mental health, self-harm and suicide than other young people, “ he said.

“Sadly, this is largely attributed to the harassment, stigma and discrimination they and other LGBTIQ+ individuals and communities face in our society,” Oberklaid said.

Children from Rainbow Families discuss marriage equality plebiscite

He warned that the debate itself had been harmful.

“The negative and discriminatory rhetoric of the current marriage equality debate is damaging the most vulnerable members of our community – children and adolescents. It’s essential that we recognise the potential for the debate about marriage equality to cause harm for our children and young people,” Oberklaid said.

He said there was solid evidence in countries that had legalised same-sex marriage that it had a positive impact on the mental health and wellbeing of same-sex-parented families and LGBTIQ+ young people.

“As part of the medical community we feel a duty of care to all groups in our society, particularly to those who are vulnerable. Our duty extends to making sure that accurate, objective interpretations of the best available evidence are available and inaccuracies are corrected in an effort to reduce the destructiveness of public debate,” Oberklaid said.

He called for an end to the negative messages that could harm children in the final weeks of the voting period.

Melbourne Children’s is made of up of four child health organisations – the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, the Royal Children’s hospital, the University of Melbourne, department of paediatrics and the Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation.

Will a sugar tax work? Well, it did at Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurants

Jamie Oliver’s 10p tax on sugary drinks sold in his Italian restaurants has resulted in a significant drop in sales, a study has found.

The Jamie’s Italian chain introduced the sugary drinks tax to set an example as part of a campaign to persuade the government to take action. In June 2015, Oliver announced that every drink containing added sugar would cost 10p extra and that the money would help pay for food education and water fountains in schools.

A study of the effects of the levy, published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, has found that sales of sugar-sweetened drinks such as colas and lemonades fell by 11% in the first 12 weeks. At the end of six months, sales were 9.3% lower than they had been before the levy was introduced.

Prof Steven Cummins of the department of social and environmental health research at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who carried out the study, acknowledged that the clientele of Oliver’s restaurants tended to be affluent, and that the price hike on a drink costing between £2.60 and £3.25 might not make a lot of difference to them.


We can’t be sure that the fall in consumption of sugary drinks was entirely, or even mainly, caused by the extra 10p

“I don’t think the financial element of it is a massive disincentive,” he said. But he likened it to the plastic bag charge, which prompts people to think about having one.

The menu explains the purpose of the levy and, at the time of the launch, Oliver was fronting a television documentary on the potential damage of sugary drinks to children’s health, called Jamie’s Sugar Rush.

When it came to the government tax on drinks containing added sugar, which begins in April 2018 – assuming it is passed on to the consumer and not absorbed by some of the multinational companies making popular drinks – the impact would likely depend on how much educational messaging accompanied the price rise, said Cummins.

“If you want to optimise the effect at point-of-sale [in shops], perhaps signage or other elements that could be put on the shelves themselves might have an impact over and above the financial incentive,” he said.

In the 12 months leading up to the introduction of the levy, more than 2m non-alcoholic drinks were sold in the 37 Jamie’s Italian restaurants, of which 38% (773,230) were sugar sweetened.

The drop in sales at six months of 9.3% was only in the restaurants that previously had higher levels of sales of sweetened drinks. There was a general drop in sales on non-alcoholic beverages, except for fruit juices, which went up. There is no evidence as yet on whether alcohol sales also went up. Cummins said it was possible that more people were drinking tap water, which is not billed and therefore did not appear in the sales figures.

He said he thought the effect was “entirely transferable” to other less expensive chains. “There is no reason why other restaurants couldn’t do exactly the same,” he said. Those that have the highest sales of sweetened drinks would be likely to have the biggest falls.

Susan Jebb, professor of diet and population health at the University of Oxford said this was the first evidence of the effects of a price rise in a restaurant setting and could not be considered conclusive.

“Nonetheless this is a careful analysis and shows a greater than anticipated fall in sales, which is encouraging news for public health ahead of the introduction of the soft drink industry levy next year,” she said.

“Surprisingly, and unlike the experience in some other countries, there was also a decline in low- and no-sugar drinks, which is harder to explain. The gap in the paper is data on alcohol sales, since any compensatory increase (which may or may not have occurred) would be of considerable concern given the potential contribution to energy intake and health harms. Businesses will also want to understand more about the likely impact on turnover.”

Kevin McConway, emeritus professor of applied statistics at the Open University, said there was a lot more going on than just the price increase. “The menu was redesigned: it explained that the proceeds of the levy would go to the Children’s Health Fund, new drink products were introduced, and Jamie himself appeared in a television programme about sugar. So we certainly can’t be sure that the fall in consumption of sugary drinks was entirely, or even mainly, caused by the extra 10p.

“The researchers do provide some circumstantial evidence that the 10p played a role in the reduction in consumption, but they (rightly) make it clear that a study like this can’t prove what caused what. Actually, it doesn’t even establish that any of the specific changes at Jamie’s Italian restaurants had anything to do with the lower consumption – for instance, the researchers had no data from any other restaurants, and maybe consumption fell there as well.

“Jamie Oliver isn’t the only person to have been on TV pointing out the health consequences of too much sugar, and the general publicity that sugary drinks are bad for health is likely to have had some general effect on consumption,” McConway said.

Will a sugar tax work? Well, it did at Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurants

Jamie Oliver’s 10p tax on sugary drinks sold in his Italian restaurants has resulted in a significant drop in sales, a study has found.

The Jamie’s Italian chain introduced the sugary drinks tax to set an example as part of a campaign to persuade the government to take action. In June 2015, Oliver announced that every drink containing added sugar would cost 10p extra and that the money would help pay for food education and water fountains in schools.

A study of the effects of the levy, published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, has found that sales of sugar-sweetened drinks such as colas and lemonades fell by 11% in the first 12 weeks. At the end of six months, sales were 9.3% lower than they had been before the levy was introduced.

Prof Steven Cummins of the department of social and environmental health research at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who carried out the study, acknowledged that the clientele of Oliver’s restaurants tended to be affluent, and that the price hike on a drink costing between £2.60 and £3.25 might not make a lot of difference to them.


We can’t be sure that the fall in consumption of sugary drinks was entirely, or even mainly, caused by the extra 10p

“I don’t think the financial element of it is a massive disincentive,” he said. But he likened it to the plastic bag charge, which prompts people to think about having one.

The menu explains the purpose of the levy and, at the time of the launch, Oliver was fronting a television documentary on the potential damage of sugary drinks to children’s health, called Jamie’s Sugar Rush.

When it came to the government tax on drinks containing added sugar, which begins in April 2018 – assuming it is passed on to the consumer and not absorbed by some of the multinational companies making popular drinks – the impact would likely depend on how much educational messaging accompanied the price rise, said Cummins.

“If you want to optimise the effect at point-of-sale [in shops], perhaps signage or other elements that could be put on the shelves themselves might have an impact over and above the financial incentive,” he said.

In the 12 months leading up to the introduction of the levy, more than 2m non-alcoholic drinks were sold in the 37 Jamie’s Italian restaurants, of which 38% (773,230) were sugar sweetened.

The drop in sales at six months of 9.3% was only in the restaurants that previously had higher levels of sales of sweetened drinks. There was a general drop in sales on non-alcoholic beverages, except for fruit juices, which went up. There is no evidence as yet on whether alcohol sales also went up. Cummins said it was possible that more people were drinking tap water, which is not billed and therefore did not appear in the sales figures.

He said he thought the effect was “entirely transferable” to other less expensive chains. “There is no reason why other restaurants couldn’t do exactly the same,” he said. Those that have the highest sales of sweetened drinks would be likely to have the biggest falls.

Susan Jebb, professor of diet and population health at the University of Oxford said this was the first evidence of the effects of a price rise in a restaurant setting and could not be considered conclusive.

“Nonetheless this is a careful analysis and shows a greater than anticipated fall in sales, which is encouraging news for public health ahead of the introduction of the soft drink industry levy next year,” she said.

“Surprisingly, and unlike the experience in some other countries, there was also a decline in low- and no-sugar drinks, which is harder to explain. The gap in the paper is data on alcohol sales, since any compensatory increase (which may or may not have occurred) would be of considerable concern given the potential contribution to energy intake and health harms. Businesses will also want to understand more about the likely impact on turnover.”

Kevin McConway, emeritus professor of applied statistics at the Open University, said there was a lot more going on than just the price increase. “The menu was redesigned: it explained that the proceeds of the levy would go to the Children’s Health Fund, new drink products were introduced, and Jamie himself appeared in a television programme about sugar. So we certainly can’t be sure that the fall in consumption of sugary drinks was entirely, or even mainly, caused by the extra 10p.

“The researchers do provide some circumstantial evidence that the 10p played a role in the reduction in consumption, but they (rightly) make it clear that a study like this can’t prove what caused what. Actually, it doesn’t even establish that any of the specific changes at Jamie’s Italian restaurants had anything to do with the lower consumption – for instance, the researchers had no data from any other restaurants, and maybe consumption fell there as well.

“Jamie Oliver isn’t the only person to have been on TV pointing out the health consequences of too much sugar, and the general publicity that sugary drinks are bad for health is likely to have had some general effect on consumption,” McConway said.

Will a sugar tax work? Well, it did at Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurants

Jamie Oliver’s 10p tax on sugary drinks sold in his Italian restaurants has resulted in a significant drop in sales, a study has found.

The Jamie’s Italian chain introduced the sugary drinks tax to set an example as part of a campaign to persuade the government to take action. In June 2015, Oliver announced that every drink containing added sugar would cost 10p extra and that the money would help pay for food education and water fountains in schools.

A study of the effects of the levy, published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, has found that sales of sugar-sweetened drinks such as colas and lemonades fell by 11% in the first 12 weeks. At the end of six months, sales were 9.3% lower than they had been before the levy was introduced.

Prof Steven Cummins of the department of social and environmental health research at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who carried out the study, acknowledged that the clientele of Oliver’s restaurants tended to be affluent, and that the price hike on a drink costing between £2.60 and £3.25 might not make a lot of difference to them.


We can’t be sure that the fall in consumption of sugary drinks was entirely, or even mainly, caused by the extra 10p

“I don’t think the financial element of it is a massive disincentive,” he said. But he likened it to the plastic bag charge, which prompts people to think about having one.

The menu explains the purpose of the levy and, at the time of the launch, Oliver was fronting a television documentary on the potential damage of sugary drinks to children’s health, called Jamie’s Sugar Rush.

When it came to the government tax on drinks containing added sugar, which begins in April 2018 – assuming it is passed on to the consumer and not absorbed by some of the multinational companies making popular drinks – the impact would likely depend on how much educational messaging accompanied the price rise, said Cummins.

“If you want to optimise the effect at point-of-sale [in shops], perhaps signage or other elements that could be put on the shelves themselves might have an impact over and above the financial incentive,” he said.

In the 12 months leading up to the introduction of the levy, more than 2m non-alcoholic drinks were sold in the 37 Jamie’s Italian restaurants, of which 38% (773,230) were sugar sweetened.

The drop in sales at six months of 9.3% was only in the restaurants that previously had higher levels of sales of sweetened drinks. There was a general drop in sales on non-alcoholic beverages, except for fruit juices, which went up. There is no evidence as yet on whether alcohol sales also went up. Cummins said it was possible that more people were drinking tap water, which is not billed and therefore did not appear in the sales figures.

He said he thought the effect was “entirely transferable” to other less expensive chains. “There is no reason why other restaurants couldn’t do exactly the same,” he said. Those that have the highest sales of sweetened drinks would be likely to have the biggest falls.

Susan Jebb, professor of diet and population health at the University of Oxford said this was the first evidence of the effects of a price rise in a restaurant setting and could not be considered conclusive.

“Nonetheless this is a careful analysis and shows a greater than anticipated fall in sales, which is encouraging news for public health ahead of the introduction of the soft drink industry levy next year,” she said.

“Surprisingly, and unlike the experience in some other countries, there was also a decline in low- and no-sugar drinks, which is harder to explain. The gap in the paper is data on alcohol sales, since any compensatory increase (which may or may not have occurred) would be of considerable concern given the potential contribution to energy intake and health harms. Businesses will also want to understand more about the likely impact on turnover.”

Kevin McConway, emeritus professor of applied statistics at the Open University, said there was a lot more going on than just the price increase. “The menu was redesigned: it explained that the proceeds of the levy would go to the Children’s Health Fund, new drink products were introduced, and Jamie himself appeared in a television programme about sugar. So we certainly can’t be sure that the fall in consumption of sugary drinks was entirely, or even mainly, caused by the extra 10p.

“The researchers do provide some circumstantial evidence that the 10p played a role in the reduction in consumption, but they (rightly) make it clear that a study like this can’t prove what caused what. Actually, it doesn’t even establish that any of the specific changes at Jamie’s Italian restaurants had anything to do with the lower consumption – for instance, the researchers had no data from any other restaurants, and maybe consumption fell there as well.

“Jamie Oliver isn’t the only person to have been on TV pointing out the health consequences of too much sugar, and the general publicity that sugary drinks are bad for health is likely to have had some general effect on consumption,” McConway said.

Will a sugar tax work? Well, it did at Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurants

Jamie Oliver’s 10p tax on sugary drinks sold in his Italian restaurants has resulted in a significant drop in sales, a study has found.

The Jamie’s Italian chain introduced the sugary drinks tax to set an example as part of a campaign to persuade the government to take action. In June 2015, Oliver announced that every drink containing added sugar would cost 10p extra and that the money would help pay for food education and water fountains in schools.

A study of the effects of the levy, published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, has found that sales of sugar-sweetened drinks such as colas and lemonades fell by 11% in the first 12 weeks. At the end of six months, sales were 9.3% lower than they had been before the levy was introduced.

Prof Steven Cummins of the department of social and environmental health research at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who carried out the study, acknowledged that the clientele of Oliver’s restaurants tended to be affluent, and that the price hike on a drink costing between £2.60 and £3.25 might not make a lot of difference to them.


We can’t be sure that the fall in consumption of sugary drinks was entirely, or even mainly, caused by the extra 10p

“I don’t think the financial element of it is a massive disincentive,” he said. But he likened it to the plastic bag charge, which prompts people to think about having one.

The menu explains the purpose of the levy and, at the time of the launch, Oliver was fronting a television documentary on the potential damage of sugary drinks to children’s health, called Jamie’s Sugar Rush.

When it came to the government tax on drinks containing added sugar, which begins in April 2018 – assuming it is passed on to the consumer and not absorbed by some of the multinational companies making popular drinks – the impact would likely depend on how much educational messaging accompanied the price rise, said Cummins.

“If you want to optimise the effect at point-of-sale [in shops], perhaps signage or other elements that could be put on the shelves themselves might have an impact over and above the financial incentive,” he said.

In the 12 months leading up to the introduction of the levy, more than 2m non-alcoholic drinks were sold in the 37 Jamie’s Italian restaurants, of which 38% (773,230) were sugar sweetened.

The drop in sales at six months of 9.3% was only in the restaurants that previously had higher levels of sales of sweetened drinks. There was a general drop in sales on non-alcoholic beverages, except for fruit juices, which went up. There is no evidence as yet on whether alcohol sales also went up. Cummins said it was possible that more people were drinking tap water, which is not billed and therefore did not appear in the sales figures.

He said he thought the effect was “entirely transferable” to other less expensive chains. “There is no reason why other restaurants couldn’t do exactly the same,” he said. Those that have the highest sales of sweetened drinks would be likely to have the biggest falls.

Susan Jebb, professor of diet and population health at the University of Oxford said this was the first evidence of the effects of a price rise in a restaurant setting and could not be considered conclusive.

“Nonetheless this is a careful analysis and shows a greater than anticipated fall in sales, which is encouraging news for public health ahead of the introduction of the soft drink industry levy next year,” she said.

“Surprisingly, and unlike the experience in some other countries, there was also a decline in low- and no-sugar drinks, which is harder to explain. The gap in the paper is data on alcohol sales, since any compensatory increase (which may or may not have occurred) would be of considerable concern given the potential contribution to energy intake and health harms. Businesses will also want to understand more about the likely impact on turnover.”

Kevin McConway, emeritus professor of applied statistics at the Open University, said there was a lot more going on than just the price increase. “The menu was redesigned: it explained that the proceeds of the levy would go to the Children’s Health Fund, new drink products were introduced, and Jamie himself appeared in a television programme about sugar. So we certainly can’t be sure that the fall in consumption of sugary drinks was entirely, or even mainly, caused by the extra 10p.

“The researchers do provide some circumstantial evidence that the 10p played a role in the reduction in consumption, but they (rightly) make it clear that a study like this can’t prove what caused what. Actually, it doesn’t even establish that any of the specific changes at Jamie’s Italian restaurants had anything to do with the lower consumption – for instance, the researchers had no data from any other restaurants, and maybe consumption fell there as well.

“Jamie Oliver isn’t the only person to have been on TV pointing out the health consequences of too much sugar, and the general publicity that sugary drinks are bad for health is likely to have had some general effect on consumption,” McConway said.

Will a sugar tax work? Well, it did at Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurants

Jamie Oliver’s 10p tax on sugary drinks sold in his Italian restaurants has resulted in a significant drop in sales, a study has found.

The Jamie’s Italian chain introduced the sugary drinks tax to set an example as part of a campaign to persuade the government to take action. In June 2015, Oliver announced that every drink containing added sugar would cost 10p extra and that the money would help pay for food education and water fountains in schools.

A study of the effects of the levy, published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, has found that sales of sugar-sweetened drinks such as colas and lemonades fell by 11% in the first 12 weeks. At the end of six months, sales were 9.3% lower than they had been before the levy was introduced.

Prof Steven Cummins of the department of social and environmental health research at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who carried out the study, acknowledged that the clientele of Oliver’s restaurants tended to be affluent, and that the price hike on a drink costing between £2.60 and £3.25 might not make a lot of difference to them.


We can’t be sure that the fall in consumption of sugary drinks was entirely, or even mainly, caused by the extra 10p

“I don’t think the financial element of it is a massive disincentive,” he said. But he likened it to the plastic bag charge, which prompts people to think about having one.

The menu explains the purpose of the levy and, at the time of the launch, Oliver was fronting a television documentary on the potential damage of sugary drinks to children’s health, called Jamie’s Sugar Rush.

When it came to the government tax on drinks containing added sugar, which begins in April 2018 – assuming it is passed on to the consumer and not absorbed by some of the multinational companies making popular drinks – the impact would likely depend on how much educational messaging accompanied the price rise, said Cummins.

“If you want to optimise the effect at point-of-sale [in shops], perhaps signage or other elements that could be put on the shelves themselves might have an impact over and above the financial incentive,” he said.

In the 12 months leading up to the introduction of the levy, more than 2m non-alcoholic drinks were sold in the 37 Jamie’s Italian restaurants, of which 38% (773,230) were sugar sweetened.

The drop in sales at six months of 9.3% was only in the restaurants that previously had higher levels of sales of sweetened drinks. There was a general drop in sales on non-alcoholic beverages, except for fruit juices, which went up. There is no evidence as yet on whether alcohol sales also went up. Cummins said it was possible that more people were drinking tap water, which is not billed and therefore did not appear in the sales figures.

He said he thought the effect was “entirely transferable” to other less expensive chains. “There is no reason why other restaurants couldn’t do exactly the same,” he said. Those that have the highest sales of sweetened drinks would be likely to have the biggest falls.

Susan Jebb, professor of diet and population health at the University of Oxford said this was the first evidence of the effects of a price rise in a restaurant setting and could not be considered conclusive.

“Nonetheless this is a careful analysis and shows a greater than anticipated fall in sales, which is encouraging news for public health ahead of the introduction of the soft drink industry levy next year,” she said.

“Surprisingly, and unlike the experience in some other countries, there was also a decline in low- and no-sugar drinks, which is harder to explain. The gap in the paper is data on alcohol sales, since any compensatory increase (which may or may not have occurred) would be of considerable concern given the potential contribution to energy intake and health harms. Businesses will also want to understand more about the likely impact on turnover.”

Kevin McConway, emeritus professor of applied statistics at the Open University, said there was a lot more going on than just the price increase. “The menu was redesigned: it explained that the proceeds of the levy would go to the Children’s Health Fund, new drink products were introduced, and Jamie himself appeared in a television programme about sugar. So we certainly can’t be sure that the fall in consumption of sugary drinks was entirely, or even mainly, caused by the extra 10p.

“The researchers do provide some circumstantial evidence that the 10p played a role in the reduction in consumption, but they (rightly) make it clear that a study like this can’t prove what caused what. Actually, it doesn’t even establish that any of the specific changes at Jamie’s Italian restaurants had anything to do with the lower consumption – for instance, the researchers had no data from any other restaurants, and maybe consumption fell there as well.

“Jamie Oliver isn’t the only person to have been on TV pointing out the health consequences of too much sugar, and the general publicity that sugary drinks are bad for health is likely to have had some general effect on consumption,” McConway said.

Will a sugar tax work? Well, it did at Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurants

Jamie Oliver’s 10p tax on sugary drinks sold in his Italian restaurants has resulted in a significant drop in sales, a study has found.

The Jamie’s Italian chain introduced the sugary drinks tax to set an example as part of a campaign to persuade the government to take action. In June 2015, Oliver announced that every drink containing added sugar would cost 10p extra and that the money would help pay for food education and water fountains in schools.

A study of the effects of the levy, published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, has found that sales of sugar-sweetened drinks such as colas and lemonades fell by 11% in the first 12 weeks. At the end of six months, sales were 9.3% lower than they had been before the levy was introduced.

Prof Steven Cummins of the department of social and environmental health research at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who carried out the study, acknowledged that the clientele of Oliver’s restaurants tended to be affluent, and that the price hike on a drink costing between £2.60 and £3.25 might not make a lot of difference to them.


We can’t be sure that the fall in consumption of sugary drinks was entirely, or even mainly, caused by the extra 10p

“I don’t think the financial element of it is a massive disincentive,” he said. But he likened it to the plastic bag charge, which prompts people to think about having one.

The menu explains the purpose of the levy and, at the time of the launch, Oliver was fronting a television documentary on the potential damage of sugary drinks to children’s health, called Jamie’s Sugar Rush.

When it came to the government tax on drinks containing added sugar, which begins in April 2018 – assuming it is passed on to the consumer and not absorbed by some of the multinational companies making popular drinks – the impact would likely depend on how much educational messaging accompanied the price rise, said Cummins.

“If you want to optimise the effect at point-of-sale [in shops], perhaps signage or other elements that could be put on the shelves themselves might have an impact over and above the financial incentive,” he said.

In the 12 months leading up to the introduction of the levy, more than 2m non-alcoholic drinks were sold in the 37 Jamie’s Italian restaurants, of which 38% (773,230) were sugar sweetened.

The drop in sales at six months of 9.3% was only in the restaurants that previously had higher levels of sales of sweetened drinks. There was a general drop in sales on non-alcoholic beverages, except for fruit juices, which went up. There is no evidence as yet on whether alcohol sales also went up. Cummins said it was possible that more people were drinking tap water, which is not billed and therefore did not appear in the sales figures.

He said he thought the effect was “entirely transferable” to other less expensive chains. “There is no reason why other restaurants couldn’t do exactly the same,” he said. Those that have the highest sales of sweetened drinks would be likely to have the biggest falls.

Susan Jebb, professor of diet and population health at the University of Oxford said this was the first evidence of the effects of a price rise in a restaurant setting and could not be considered conclusive.

“Nonetheless this is a careful analysis and shows a greater than anticipated fall in sales, which is encouraging news for public health ahead of the introduction of the soft drink industry levy next year,” she said.

“Surprisingly, and unlike the experience in some other countries, there was also a decline in low- and no-sugar drinks, which is harder to explain. The gap in the paper is data on alcohol sales, since any compensatory increase (which may or may not have occurred) would be of considerable concern given the potential contribution to energy intake and health harms. Businesses will also want to understand more about the likely impact on turnover.”

Kevin McConway, emeritus professor of applied statistics at the Open University, said there was a lot more going on than just the price increase. “The menu was redesigned: it explained that the proceeds of the levy would go to the Children’s Health Fund, new drink products were introduced, and Jamie himself appeared in a television programme about sugar. So we certainly can’t be sure that the fall in consumption of sugary drinks was entirely, or even mainly, caused by the extra 10p.

“The researchers do provide some circumstantial evidence that the 10p played a role in the reduction in consumption, but they (rightly) make it clear that a study like this can’t prove what caused what. Actually, it doesn’t even establish that any of the specific changes at Jamie’s Italian restaurants had anything to do with the lower consumption – for instance, the researchers had no data from any other restaurants, and maybe consumption fell there as well.

“Jamie Oliver isn’t the only person to have been on TV pointing out the health consequences of too much sugar, and the general publicity that sugary drinks are bad for health is likely to have had some general effect on consumption,” McConway said.

Will a sugar tax work? Well, it did at Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurants

Jamie Oliver’s 10p tax on sugary drinks sold in his Italian restaurants has resulted in a significant drop in sales, a study has found.

The Jamie’s Italian chain introduced the sugary drinks tax to set an example as part of a campaign to persuade the government to take action. In June 2015, Oliver announced that every drink containing added sugar would cost 10p extra and that the money would help pay for food education and water fountains in schools.

A study of the effects of the levy, published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, has found that sales of sugar-sweetened drinks such as colas and lemonades fell by 11% in the first 12 weeks. At the end of six months, sales were 9.3% lower than they had been before the levy was introduced.

Prof Steven Cummins of the department of social and environmental health research at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who carried out the study, acknowledged that the clientele of Oliver’s restaurants tended to be affluent, and that the price hike on a drink costing between £2.60 and £3.25 might not make a lot of difference to them.


We can’t be sure that the fall in consumption of sugary drinks was entirely, or even mainly, caused by the extra 10p

“I don’t think the financial element of it is a massive disincentive,” he said. But he likened it to the plastic bag charge, which prompts people to think about having one.

The menu explains the purpose of the levy and, at the time of the launch, Oliver was fronting a television documentary on the potential damage of sugary drinks to children’s health, called Jamie’s Sugar Rush.

When it came to the government tax on drinks containing added sugar, which begins in April 2018 – assuming it is passed on to the consumer and not absorbed by some of the multinational companies making popular drinks – the impact would likely depend on how much educational messaging accompanied the price rise, said Cummins.

“If you want to optimise the effect at point-of-sale [in shops], perhaps signage or other elements that could be put on the shelves themselves might have an impact over and above the financial incentive,” he said.

In the 12 months leading up to the introduction of the levy, more than 2m non-alcoholic drinks were sold in the 37 Jamie’s Italian restaurants, of which 38% (773,230) were sugar sweetened.

The drop in sales at six months of 9.3% was only in the restaurants that previously had higher levels of sales of sweetened drinks. There was a general drop in sales on non-alcoholic beverages, except for fruit juices, which went up. There is no evidence as yet on whether alcohol sales also went up. Cummins said it was possible that more people were drinking tap water, which is not billed and therefore did not appear in the sales figures.

He said he thought the effect was “entirely transferable” to other less expensive chains. “There is no reason why other restaurants couldn’t do exactly the same,” he said. Those that have the highest sales of sweetened drinks would be likely to have the biggest falls.

Susan Jebb, professor of diet and population health at the University of Oxford said this was the first evidence of the effects of a price rise in a restaurant setting and could not be considered conclusive.

“Nonetheless this is a careful analysis and shows a greater than anticipated fall in sales, which is encouraging news for public health ahead of the introduction of the soft drink industry levy next year,” she said.

“Surprisingly, and unlike the experience in some other countries, there was also a decline in low- and no-sugar drinks, which is harder to explain. The gap in the paper is data on alcohol sales, since any compensatory increase (which may or may not have occurred) would be of considerable concern given the potential contribution to energy intake and health harms. Businesses will also want to understand more about the likely impact on turnover.”

Kevin McConway, emeritus professor of applied statistics at the Open University, said there was a lot more going on than just the price increase. “The menu was redesigned: it explained that the proceeds of the levy would go to the Children’s Health Fund, new drink products were introduced, and Jamie himself appeared in a television programme about sugar. So we certainly can’t be sure that the fall in consumption of sugary drinks was entirely, or even mainly, caused by the extra 10p.

“The researchers do provide some circumstantial evidence that the 10p played a role in the reduction in consumption, but they (rightly) make it clear that a study like this can’t prove what caused what. Actually, it doesn’t even establish that any of the specific changes at Jamie’s Italian restaurants had anything to do with the lower consumption – for instance, the researchers had no data from any other restaurants, and maybe consumption fell there as well.

“Jamie Oliver isn’t the only person to have been on TV pointing out the health consequences of too much sugar, and the general publicity that sugary drinks are bad for health is likely to have had some general effect on consumption,” McConway said.