Recently, the news has been ablaze with parents and politicians, dentists and doctors, with regards to the idea of a sugar tax. The proposal of a 5% tax on sugar and other sugary foods would aim to decrease the amount of people, specifically children, who are at risk of or have already developed obesity.
As the daughter of a former Dental Nurse and Oral Health Improvement Officer (I love how that sounds), I have grown up with horror stories of tooth decay and the terrifying knowledge of just how much sugar is in popular soft drinks and junk food. For example, one 330ml can of Coca-Cola contains eight teaspoons of sugar, while a 500ml bottle of Lucozade has a whopping 22 teaspoons of sugar in it. Think flavoured water’s good for you? It is water, after all. How bad could it be, right?
Volvic lemon and lime flavoured water has as much sugar in it as five jam doughnuts.
Shocking, I know, but everything we consume has sugar in it. Even Weight Watchers ready meals balance out a reduced amount of fat by increasing the amount of sugar.
The proposed sugar tax would increase the prices of sugary foods, and has been a success in a majority of other European countries. When identifying patterns of infant dental problems in Salford, specifically within the under 5 category, the highest rates are in the more deprived areas, where an increase in price would make many seriously reconsider their spending habits. Although it seems easy to blame sugar intake on parenting, since starting college I can sympathise with the fact that the easy, cheap and convenient foods that you buy when you’re on the move are rarely the ideal healthy options. Have you ever tried eating a pasta salad while walking down the street? It’s much more difficult than eating a pasty, or a chocolate bar.
There is, however, a valid point of how this would affect sufferers of type 1 diabetes. I have a friend with diabetes, and to regulate his blood sugar he often has to eat high-sugar foods, or drink energy drinks. The proposed taxes would make this more expensive and difficult, but perhaps the government could issue a card of some sort which would nullify the taxes.
In my opinion the sugar tax is at least worth trying, especially if the government invests the money in our poorly-funded NHS to further aid the fight against obesity. In my eyes, whether rightly or wrongly, those opposed to the cuts are the ones who regularly buy sugary food and don’t want to change their diets and shopping habits.
Surely, the sugar tax is a common sense measure which should have been put into place long ago?