Health & Wellbeing

No sugar coating

Woman holding sugarcubes

The British Medical Association has stepped forward to call for a tax on sugar with a starting suggestion of a 20p levy on sugary drinks. The Association deems such a tax necessary in the fight against obesity as its recent report, ‘Food For Thought’, has identified that poor diet costs the NHS approximately £6 billion a year – meaning it has a greater financial impact than alcohol consumption, smoking or physical inactivity.

The idea of a tax on sugary drinks, with such a disproportionately high amount mooted, is a good one – 2p or 5p could well pass unnoted. It needs to be a significant amount when compared to the cost of the drink to make the consumer take note. In other words, it has to hit hard and there’s no better way of causing the consumer the type of pain that will make him or her sit up than to hit them in their pockets.

What’s even better about the BMA’s suggestion is that they have taken it a step further by proposing that the taxes collected from the drinks could go towards subsidizing the sale of fruit and vegetables.

This chimes well with a report in the Independent, published at the weekend, which states that the world is entering an era of global food insecurity, with malnutrition and obesity existing side by side within some countries.

We are in a very fortunate position, raising our children in a progressive country where food shortages, for the majority of us, are not an issue. All of our children also have access to, and the right to, a good education. We need to maximize on this and continue to drive the messages about healthy food that are initiated at school in the home environment.

No more sugar coating. It has to be a sharp, two-pronged attack, from at home and at school, to fully educate and really make a difference.