A little while ago we wrote about a potential ‘sugar tax’ on all things sweet and, specifically, chocolaty. The idea behind implementing such a tax was to try to cut down on the growing (no pun intended) problem of childhood obesity which, as well as making the child in question’s life difficult with regard to playing sports and other activities, and making them ill thereby missing school, could well lead to them becoming an obese adult. Obese adults have – or can have – many health problems, which in turn puts a strain on our wonderful NHS.
So tackling childhood obesity should really be a priority.
Except that recently, the prime minister, David Cameron, has ruled out a sugar tax. This is despite the government’s own obesity and health experts telling him it would be a huge help with the issue at hand.
In fact, Public Health England (PHE), have suggested that a sugar tax of 20% on top of today’s prices would be the best way to cut down on childhood obesity – and adult obesity, come to that. Their report, entitled The Sugar Reduction: The Evidence for Action, was published earlier in the month. It includes recommendations such as the rate of 20% for tax as mentioned above (although a minimum rate of 10% was also suggested), reducing the ability for supermarkets to promote sugary products, reduce funding for advertising of such products, and limit their spread (ie they should be on after a certain time, and not during children’s television), and call on the producers to reduce their use of sugar.
David Cameron’s spokesman told those waiting to hear what he would say regarding these measures that the prime minister thought there were more effective ways of dealing with the obesity crisis. However, that same spokesman also hinted that he did not believe Cameron had actually read the report.
It will be interesting to find out what the PM’s ideas are regarding this huge (again, no pun intended) problem – it currently costs the NHS £6 billion every year to deal with health issues stemming from obesity in both children and adults, and is therefore something that needs to be dealt with immediately before it results in a crisis that our National Health Service simply cannot cope with. It drains resources from other departments and, if it continues as it is at the moment, the NHS will go broke because of it.
Something must be done.
Jamie Oliver, the celebrity chef, has said that he is ‘ready for a fight’ with the government over the problem. He is well known for his passionate pleas for healthier school dinners, and he is concerned over the health of the nation’s children.
What are your thoughts? Would you welcome a 20% tax rate on sugary food and drink if it would save our children and our NHS? Or do you think there’s a better way – if so, what is it?