Government report recommends a sugar tax

The government’ disease prevention think tank, Public Health England (PHE), has recommended taxing sugar. About time too but why is PM Cameron opposed? He says it taxes the poor. Almost half of all sugar consumption in kids comes from sweets and sweetened drinks and specifically taxing these, and limiting their marketing as has been done with cigarettes, will help influence parents to just stop buying them for kids thus saving money for real food. One shortcoming is that Public Health England (PHE) haven’t specified what to spend the tax on, although they do talk about more nutrition education for those who influence food choices. Nor is any mention made of doctors, who play a crucial role in influencing diet behaviour, yet receive virtually no training in nutrition. Disincentivise sweet foods by all means, including limiting marketing and advertising and increasing cost, but it is vital that any tax charged must be spent on nutrition education.

In Mexico a sugar tax of 10% resulted in a 6% decrease in sugar consumption. Mexico also had a decrease in diabetes diagnoses. But putting diabetes and sugar together remains a blindspot (see my blog on this) yet represents a massive opportunity to cut NHS costs. PHE say imposing restrictions on sugar could save the NHS around £500 million a year. In my blog on how the NHS can save £6 billion a year we see that targeting diabetics and pre-diabetics to eat a low GL diet could save £1 billion. Employing 2,500 nutritional therapists would cost a mere £75 million.

What do you think an enlightened government should do? Do you favour a sugartax?