Life Dental and Wellbeing

A spoon full of sugar might not help the medicine go down

Sugar Tax

There’s been a lot of talk recently about a “sugar tax” on soft drinks. The dental press are always full of concerns – the chair of the British Dental Association, Mick Armstrong recently concluded “Britain is addicted to sugar, and if we’re going to break that habit it will require politicians in Westminster, Edinburgh and Belfast to pick up the trail set by pioneers in Wales”. The Welsh Government has become the first parliament to back moves for a 20% tax on sugary drinks but on their own they don’t have the power to introduce the tax. The Prime Minister does not currently believe the UK needs a tax on sugar but perhaps the World Health Organisation might sway his thoughts.

WHO Commission

A recent report by a WHO commission on childhood obesity says there is strong evidence that a sugar tax can work alongside measures such as tackling portion sizes and food labelling.” The commission believes there is sufficient rationale to warrant the introduction of an effective tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.” Those on low incomes “have the greatest risk of obesity in many societies and are most influenced by price”.

Sugar diet is directly linked to tooth decay

So it can’t be disputed that a high-sugar diet is directly linked to tooth decay and is therefore detrimental to our oral and general health. A recent report even cited the emergency removal of teeth as the number one reason for childhood hospital admissions in Britain. A report by Public Health England in October last year suggested a tax of between 10 and 20% on high-sugar products to combat our addiction. Jamie Oliver and Sustain are leading the way with the petition which you may recall resulted in a sugar tax debate in Parliament in November. Jamie Oliver has introduced a levy on sugary drinks sold in his restaurants and the proceeds go to the Children's Health Fund set up by himself to support programmes and schemes aimed at improving children’s health and food education. Brighton and Hove Council has recently launched a voluntary sugar tax asking all shops to charge an extra 10p on all sugary drinks proceeds of which are going to the same Fund set up by Jamie Oliver.

France taxes all drinks containing added sugar or artificial sweeteners at (6p equivalent) per litre and energy drinks at (40p equivalent). Hungary (no pun intended) taxes are 1p per litre on sugary drinks and 70p per litre on energy ones AND they have levies on salty snacks and condiments, sweets, biscuits, ice cream and chocolate. As a result there was a 20% drop in the sale of soft drinks in the first six months of the tax’s introduction.

If they can do it why can’t we and maybe a spoonful of sugar isn't the way ahead?

Chrissy Still
Chrissy Still
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