A new study by Newcastle University shows that a sugar tax could be effective in discouraging shoppers from buying sweet products.

Researchers found demand for sugary breakfast cereals fell by 48% if consumers knew a 20% tax was being applied.

And lead researcher Daniel Zizzo, Professor of Economics at Newcastle University Business School told British Baker that while the experiment was not on baked goods, the indirect evidence suggested that a sugar tax would be effective in reducing household sugary baked goods purchases and therefore children’s sugar consumption.

He said: “There can certainly be the potential for a sugar tax to be extended to sugary baked goods.”

The breakfast cereals study, carried out by Newcastle, York and Anglia Ruskin Universities, examined the impact of both a 20% and 40% tax on unhealthier cereals and soft drinks containing sugar. It also looked at whether telling people they were being taxed influenced the way they shopped.

People taking part in the study and were given a budget of £10 to spend on soft drinks and cereals. The products were classed by researchers as healthier or less healthy, depending upon their nutritional value.

The findings suggested a 20% sugar tax would work and lead to large changes in shopping behaviour, the researchers said.

“We know the government is already introducing a sugar levy on fizzy drinks in 2018,” said Professor Zizzo. “Our evidence shows that it could be applied to other products successfully, though I expect the size of the effect to be smaller than what we found in our study.”

The campaign group Action on Sugar has said most breakfast bars contain the same or more sugar than a bowl of Kellogg’s Coco Pops.