Public Health England Advocates 10-15% Sugar Tax in Report

Public Health England has finally released the results of its sugar-related survey.

The report has been plagued with controversy after accusations that the Conservative government embargoed it in order to ensure media attention was focused on its party conference.

Unquestionably, the headline recommendation of the survey is that a 10-15% taxation on sugary drinks and food should be imposed.

And there is already a heated debate on the subject, with observers both strongly for and against the concept.

The television chef Jamie Oliver has notably lent his support to the idea of a sugar tax, stating that he believed parents should not view sugary treats as being a valid part of hydration and nutrition.

And there seems to be something of a sense of enthusiasm for the idea on the political left, Alice the obesity academic in the UK shows a few signs of abating.

Conversely, the libertarian argument related to the sugar tax is that people should exercise self-control and personal choice.

The Daily Telegraph argues that food manufacturers should be obliged to make nutritional information extremely clear, so that people can make informed decisions.

It is also notable that Denmark has previously introduced both a sugar and fat tax, but repealed both pretty rapidly.

The Danish government ultimately noted that the decision had little impact on eating habits, while putting Danish jobs at risk, while creating unnecessary bureaucracy.

Nonetheless, there is now likely to be a public and political debate on the introduction of a sugar tax as the parliament mulls over the idea.

Aside from the sugar tax, Public Health England has made seven other recommendations as it looks to have a positive impact on the health of the nation.

These include a reduction in price promotions at supermarkets, and a diminution in the marketing and advertising of high-sugar food and drink to kids.

The report was particularly critical of sugary drinks, noting that they boost sugar levels in the body while adding no nutritional value.

“Sugar Reduction: The evidence for action” is available online, and ultimately suggests a nuanced program of collaborative measures in order to reduce the level of sugar being consumed in the UK.

Commenting on the issue, Professor Vaeed Sattar, Professor of Metabolic Medicine, University of Glasgow, outlined his belief that obesity must be tackled head on.

“To tackle obesity we must do much, much more [than just reduce sugar intake]. In fact, plentiful evidence still points towards excess fat as a major contributor to excess calories (more so than sugar) so we cannot become distracted by this ‘sugar battle’.

“Equally, ready access to cheap calorific foods is pervasive and tackling such issues will be difficult. These are difficult issues. Cutting excess calories requires a broader approach and will take many years, but we do have to start somewhere, and ultimately the government needs to take the lead.”

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