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Crossing the border for a sugar repair

“It isn’t for me. It is a current for my boyfriend within the navy,” a Norwegian teenager says as she fills giant plastic luggage with pick-and-mix sweets from an enormous counter show.

We’re within the Gottebiten sweetshop, just some hundred metres inside Sweden – a store designed virtually completely for Norwegians to get their sugar repair for much less.

This sort of border buying has taken off, not least as a result of at first of the 12 months Norway’s tax on sweets and sugary drinks rose dramatically.

All sweetened drinks, together with “food regimen” drinks with synthetic sweetener, at the moment are taxed at about 43p/litre (1.75 pints).

It is about twice the speed of the UK’s new higher-rate sugar tax, which at 24p/litre will have an effect on solely probably the most calorific smooth drinks available on the market when it’s launched in April.

And in Norway, all sweets and chocolate, chewing gum and candy biscuits at the moment are taxed at £three.34/kg (2lb 3oz).

Which means it is surprisingly engaging to drive into Sweden, the place there isn’t a sugar tax – and items are typically cheaper, due to the EU’s customs preparations.

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Gottebiten is testomony to the recognition of those excursions, a three,000-sq-m (32,000-sq-ft) temple to treats.

The pick-and-mix choice alone spans the equal of 5 grocery store aisles. And prospects path alongside them with plastic serving spoons, shovelling the wares into luggage and buckets.

An extra quarter of the store is dedicated to cans of fizzy drinks, which guests, 95% of whom are from Norway, choose up by the crate and stack into buying trolleys.

One buyer has travelled 2,000km (1,200 miles) from Tromso, northern Norway, along with her two youngsters. She selects a number of bars of Swedish milk chocolate.

Because the sugar tax improve got here in, in January, “we’re about 10% extra gross sales”, says Mats Idbratt, operations supervisor of 20 Gottebiten border shops.

“However it may be greater than that. It is a bit of early to inform.

“Proper now we have now two extra shops within the pipeline on the border.

“We see that we’re getting extra prospects and we are able to additionally see that the prevailing prospects we have already got are shopping for extra.”

The sugar tax in Norway was by no means meant to affect the well being of the nation.

Launched in 1922, it was a fiscal measure, designed to boost income from little luxuries.

However maybe it’s having an impact on the general public’s decisions, as only one in six Norwegian youngsters is chubby, a determine that has remained steady in recent times. Within the UK, it is one in three.

For the Minster of Public Well being in Norway, Ase Michaelsen, sugar discount is a precedence.

“We managed now to stabilise the weight problems of youngsters and younger folks, and I am glad about that.

“It signifies that what we have now finished till now has been functioning in the suitable means, however we have now additionally quite a lot of campaigns about consuming 5 greens a day, extra fruits, consuming fish, wholegrain merchandise and naturally additionally being energetic out in nature and so forth.

“So I believe that we managed to stabilise it’s a good signal for us, that it really works.”

Norwegian minsters have additionally been working arduous to encourage meals producers to cut back sugar of their merchandise.

Thus far, 70 retailers have agreed to reformulate their recipes, with some chopping as much as 80% of sugar content material.

Ms Michaelsen says: “It is going fairly properly. The principle situation for us is to work collectively. Sitting on the identical desk, figuring out new insurance policies, how can we make it work for the inhabitants.

“We will not do it alone. We will not simply inform folks or corporations what they should do. They should be in cooperation with us.”

So whereas Norwegian households will proceed to reap the benefits of Swedish border searching for the issues they love, ministers are hopeful that the vary of measures in place are beginning to make a distinction.

Ms Michaelsen says: “My standpoint is that it must be vital to inform the general public the details, and the dangers, of an excessive amount of sugar.

“They will select in fact to drive to Sweden, or to purchase it over the web, however for me, it is vital they know what kind of dangers they take in the event that they get 2kg of sweet each Saturday night.

“They need to find out about that – there’s a threat. Sugar isn’t good on your well being.”

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