Will a sugar tax curb child obesity?

Will a sugar tax cut child obesity?

Action on Sugar is campaigning for measures to be introduced by the government to discourage children from consuming foods and soft drinks with high quantities of sugar.

By 2020, the group of health specialists want to see a cut in added sugar in food by 40%, a 15% reduction of fat in foods, as well as for sports sponsorships by “junk food” companies to be completely banned.

Their seven-point action plan is currently being ‘considered’ by the Department of Health, and if implemented is expected to help slow down the rate of childhood obesity in the UK.

The seven proposed measures are:

  • Reduce added sugars in food by 40%.
  • Ban all targeted marketing of unhealthy, processed foods and drinks to children.
  • Dissociate physical activity with obesity by banning junk food sports sponsorships.
  • Reduce fat by 15% in ultra-processed foods.
  • Reduce portion sizes and limit the availability of ultra-processed foods and sweetened drinks.
  • Introduce a sugar tax to encourage people to buy healthier food.

Currently one in five 10 to 11-year-olds are now obese, while one in three are overweight.

According to Action on Sugar’s chairman, Prof Graham MacGregor the current “food environment” is greatly to blame.

He said: “The UK requires the implementation of this coherent strategy, starting by setting incremental sugar reduction targets for soft drinks this summer. No delays, no excuses.”

Dr Aseem Malhotra, cardiologist and science director of Action on Sugar, shared his views on the current junk food advertising, describing it as “shameful”.

He added: “It’s time to bust the myth of physical activity and obesity and dissociate junk food and sport.”

Although the Department of Health stressed that childhood obesity is at its lowest since 1998, they are keen to take on Action on Sugar’s recommendations to “help shape future thinking”.

Watch this space.

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Tamara Marshall

Written by Tamara Marshall

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