A committee of MP's have picked up on Jamie Oliver's campaign for a tax on drinks that contain added sugar - but will it help solve the obesity problem?
A committee of MP's have backed celebrity chef Jamie Oliver's call for a tax on sugary drinks, in an attempt to reduce childhood obesity, according to a recent BBC News article.
It's been proven in Mexico to reduce consumption of these types of drinks - but would it solve the growing obesity scandal?
My answer is: it will help reduce consumption (any price increase on 'bad' products usually results in lower sales) but still doesn't address the underlying lack of education about the harm that added sugar is doing to our health. Lots of other measures would need to be introduced to make this a part of a whole movement of cleaning up the diets of children and adults in the UK, such as:
- * Banning sugary drinks (whether with added or naturally occurring sugar)
from schools and clubs, businesses aimed at kids.
- * More education in schools, from Reception year onwards, about the harm
that sugar can do in a diet so children learn to make more educated choices
when out of school.
- * More adult education is required through government backed advertising
on TV and online media channels.
- * Strict controls over marketing claims made on drinks and cereal
The scary thing I take away from the BBC's article is that for young children and teenagers, nearly half the added sugar they consume comes from drinks and cereals. So that tax on sugary drinks should also be extended to cereals with added sugar also.
My concern is that drinks and cereal manufacturers will then revert to using more added artificial sweeteners or more 'natural' alternatives which in moderation may not have a huge impact on health but if the same volume of sugar is swapped for sweetener, the same health problems and obesity levels will continue. Any education to children and adults therefore needs to raise awareness of not just the health affects of added sugar but also sweeteners and natural sugar alternatives.
And then add to that education needed to ensure people know that even naturally occurring sugars (e.g. those found in fruit), will have the same health impacts if consumed in high amounts - sugar is is sugar is sugar ultimately, wherever it is derived from.
I am at least happy that the issue of sugar is in the mainstream news - it's a start but there is a long way to go!