THE University of Brighton – the first in the country to introduce a sugar tax – has seen sales of high sugar drinks fall 16 per cent.

The news comes in the wake of the Government introducing a ‘soft drinks industry levy’ and its expectation that retailers will pass on the levy to customers, a move designed to tackle the growing problem of obesity.

The University, more than a year ago, introduced its own 10p levy on high-sugar drinks and money raised is funding food education schemes for university’s students.

The university tax was introduced in the 2016/17 academic year with support from the Jamie Oliver Foundation and Brighton and Hove City Council’s Sugar Smart Team, using the 5g sugar threshold that the Government’s sugar tax will use.

Results so far have shown a marked shift in purchasing patterns at the campus restaurants.

Julie Barker, Director of Accommodation and Hospitality Services, said overall sales of the 10p high sugar drinks fell from 47 per cent to 31 per cent of total units.

She said: “This wasn’t a controlled experiment.

“The range of low and no sugar drinks on offer was increased and they were positioned prominently in the drinks cabinets.

“And we have now installed more free water sites on campus which are mapped on the university website.”

Ms Barker said the motivation for the campaign came from students: “Through our research, they wanted to know more about nutrition and the impact on their health of what they consume.

“We provided them with information to make informed choices – we did this through changing our portfolio of drinks and highlighting sugar content as well as using ‘nudging’ techniques by product placement and the 10p ‘sugar tax’.

“The mix initiatives has helped to change their purchasing choices.”

Since the announcement of the Government’s levy, she said, “the drinks market has gone through and continues to go through a revolution.”