Customers are refusing to change their habits as a result of the sugar levy according to new research by Leeds Beckett University.

According to research lead Gemma Bridge, while respondents to the university’s post-sugar levy survey showed awareness of the tax, many failed to understand who pays the levy, what it is for or what the value of the tax is on each drink.

Bridge told Retail Express: “People are still unsure and unwilling to accept the sugar levy, consumers aren’t reporting changing their habits.”

The respondants answers confirmed the university's findings from before the sugar levy was introduced.

The Government had hoped sugar levy led drink reformulation to reduce sugar in existing products would allow people to cut their sugar consumption without changing habits. However, the survey of more than 700 people suggests a significant number of consumers do not trust reformulated products and may actually be moving away from reformulated lines.

The research lead explained: “People are very wary of artificial sweeteners and many are saying that reformulation has taken choice away from consumers as it becomes harder to purchase products without them in. These people want options that are free of artificial sweeteners.”

Of the top 25 cola and carbonated lines sold in convenience stores in the UK, 60% contain at least one artificial sweetener.

Despite public concern over the ingredients, a Cochrane review shows that artificial sweeteners in soft drinks help weight loss and evidence from NICE shows no correlation between artificial sweeteners and cancers.

Respondants also expressed concern that the sugar levy could be expanded to foods, as previously hinted by Government and health officials.

Read more: Levy could lead to new illicit trade in soft drinks