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Tax on sugary food and drinks? #BBvoice

Monday 8th February 2016

Are we sugar addicts? A recent report for Public Health England (PHE) points out that we are taking far too much sugar and it’s leading to significant health problems. It has called for major changes to how food and drink is marketed and sold – even proposing a tax on the worst offending items.

Obesity is a serious problem which not only affects someone’s quality of life, but also has strong links with chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes. These conditions are often life-shortening and cost health services billions each year. According to the most recent figures, one third of 10 to 11 year olds in England are overweight or obese. The figures are similar for other parts of the British Isles, with 16% of Scottish children, for instance, at risk of obesity.

Your recommended daily amount of energy you get from sugar is 5%, but the report points out that the average is even as high as 15%. This concerns experts who call for drastic action to ensure that children & young people can make better lifestyle choices.

The PHE report calls for a minimum price increase of 10-20% of high-sugar products, like full-sugar soft drinks and much more regulation to help define what counts as a high-sugar food. The findings have the support from figures like the famous chef, Jamie Oliver, as well as the Children’s Food Campaign.

It’s unclear whether governments would bring in any such changes. Some organisations which speak on behalf of manufacturers, like the Food & Drink Federation, say that proposals, such as a ‘sugar tax’ go far too far and point out that there is already a lot of information provided to the consumer.

What do you think? Some BB young people gave their reactions…

Should there be much tougher regulation on food and drinks which have the most sugar?

Cameron, 19

“The idea of a sugar tax is absurd. Yes currently the statistics are about 1/3 of kids leaving primary education are obese. That is due to the parents not monitoring the kid’s intake of sugar and other food items, but also down to the lack of education to reduce kids eating sugar.”

Sean, 16

“Yes, there should tougher regulation on food and drinks which have the most sugar because it’s getting ridiculous with how many obese people there are”.

Should the government try to influence behaviour – similar to what happens with smoking and other unhealthy habits?

Sean, 16

“Yes, the government should try to influence behaviour – to help people to make better choices.”

Tom, 15

“Higher percentage of tax should be charged on alcohol and higher tax on cigarettes. Target the real problems both of these cause obesity, so why target sugar?”

Andrew, 16

“No, it’s up to the customer.”

How much do you think about the amount of sugar you take on a daily basis? How would you cope without regular sugary drinks?

Peter, 11

“I take an average amount of sugar. I would survive without sugary drinks.”

Sean, 16

“I subconsciously eat quite a bit of sugar i.e. apples, tea, etc. so there would be a physical and mental challenge to myself if I was to eat less sugar – my body wouldn’t be used to a lower amount of sugar in it!”

Discuss this with your group

Get a conversation going with your young people using the discussion starters above and see how they feel about sugary food and drinks, and particularly the proposed changes.

Share what your young people think, email us at: newsdesk@boys-brigade.org.uk

Continue the conversation on Twitter:

@BBgazette using hashtag #BBvoice

See the full PHE report here


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