Starting in 2018 there will be a new tax on sugary drinks, announced on March 16th, George Osborne said, “Doing the right thing for the next generation is what this government and this Budget is about.”
But will the tax really have an effect on obesity rates? And if so, how much of one?
The reason why the tax will be introduced in two years time is to give companies time to change the ingredients and recipes if they feel the need to, which would avoid the tax entirely.
With regards to the tax, there will be two categories that drinks will fall into. One for total sugar content above 5g per 100ml and the second being for drinks with more than 8g per 100ml. This means that the prices for cans and bottles will go up accordingly, with pure fruit juices and milk-based drinks not included in the tax.
The tax is specifically for fizzy drinks as it is said that they don’t fill you up in the same way food does, which makes it very easy to consume vast amounts of calories and sugar in one go.
The government hopes that an estimated £520 million will be raised and put towards boosting primary school sports as it has been revealed that children under the age of 7 only get half the amount of exercise they should. By funding this it will teach them effective ways to combat obesity through physical activity as opposed to eating disorders later on in life.
Similar taxes have been put in place in other countries such as Mexico where the obesity rate is extremely high and it was found that the sales of fizzy drinks fell by 12% within the first year. In Hungary there has been a 40% reduction in levels of sugar products due to the tax introduction.
Looking at these examples it seems to be that the new tax hopes to have similar effects, lowering the amount of fizzy drinks bought by children and in turn allowing them to live a healthier life. Children and adolescents are consuming more than three times the amount of sugar they should be eating, with most of that coming from sugary drinks.
The consumption of sugary drinks in excess is said to be related to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, so a tax could deter people from buying them as often as they do.
Not only is sugar consumption causing children to gain weight, it is also causing a dental health crisis among children. Numerous amounts of children are being admitted to hospital to have tooth extractions due to decaying teeth from sugar, something that shouldn’t be happening until they are a lot older. The cost for these extractions and the general anesthetics used cost the NHS around £30 million per year.
Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation said:
While welcoming what is obviously a positive step in addressing the current children’s dental health crisis and ‘obesity epidemic’ we are facing in the UK, we feel that the measure outlined do not go far enough and more pressure needs to be put on manufacturers.
Source: Huffington Post
Currently obesity rates cost the NHS a crippling £5.1 billion per year and it is expected to rise unless something is done about it. While this tax is a small change it is one that has been backed by the health and fitness industry.
Nutritionist Jo Tavers from the Harley Street Nutritionist said:
We need to work from all angles to tackle the problem, but it may help. We will have to wait and see. People need to have access to a healthy balanced diet through good town planning and good food formulation; be educated on making good choices through schools, the media, and manufacturers; and people need to take responsibility for their own health as well.
Source: Huffington Post
A lot of people were surprised that the tax was being put into place, with Nutritionist Charlotte Stirling-Reed saying:
Although this tax is just a small part of a very large parcel, something is happening. It shows me that the Government is really taking health and nutrition seriously. In 2016 we need less conversation and more action to improve our diets in the UK and this is certainly some action, however small.
There is some opposition to the tax on sugary drinks from the public, such as those with diabetes type 1. Chris Loukas from Urmston in Trafford has a daughter with type 1 diabetes and says she:
was diagnosed at the age of four. As a family, we spend a fair amount of money on Lucozade energy and posrts drinks. Not all kids who regularly consume expensive sugary drinks are lazy, overweight slobs.
He then went on to say that his daughter has been playing football and other kinds of sports for 10 years now.
I am willing to pay for the Lucozade my daughter drinks but this sugar tax is just another kick in the teeth and I’m concerned it will put pressure on our already stretched NHS.
Not only that but Chris also mentioned that people with diabetes may ask to receive Lucozade on a prescription in the future if they are unable to afford it themselves.
Some people see the tax as pointless, arguing that it is the lower price of chocolate bars, crisps and cakes that are making children and adults pile on the pounds.
Luckily for those who are against the tax, they still have two years before it takes effects. We expect that in the near future some major companies will be making changes to their recipes.
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