The Sugar Tax has certainly raised some pertinent issues and, if nothing else, has got people talking about sugar and its impact on our health.

However, in my opinion the only way that a Sugar Tax will stop obesity is if the money raised from the Sugar Tax is invested in educating the population from school level upwards about the effects of sugar on their health and why obesity is a result of this.

As we face a health crisis and as a population we are the sickest we have ever been we do need to start somewhere and on a national scale.

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Perhaps a sugar tax is a good start to make people think twice?

We have seen in the past where price has affected consumers for a very short time as with petrol increases and alcohol taxes, these may affect sales for a limited period but then as a nation we tend to get over it.

As with most things it depends on how essential you deem these products to be in your day-to-day life.

So this may have an impact on some people but essentially people are addicted to these sugary, fizzy drinks and I am not sure that this tax will deter them from buying these products for long.

How much sugar can we have?

Educating people on the effects of sugar to their health and how much sugar we should be eating and how much sugar we are actually eating could be far more effective than just charging people more for sugar products.

sugar tax_2For instance, in the 1900’s we consumed on average 2.2kg’s of sugar per person per year. In 2000 we consumed on average 68Kg’s of sugar per person and that has increased at a frightening rate of 23% over the last decade.

Find the hidden sugars

Many foods contain sugar, not only fizzy drinks and it is important to educate people to read labels and understand where “hidden sources” of sugar are coming from as in most instances people are not aware of how much sugar they are consuming.

They are not aware of how sugar is “hidden” in so many of the foods we consume, many processed and packaged foods contain sugar in one form or the other.

Generally anything ending in “ose” is some form of sugar.

Hopefully most people are aware that when they consume biscuits, chocolates and sweets that they are in fact consuming sugar, however they may not be aware of exactly how much sugar they are taking on.

An average person’s diet

1 teaspoon of sugar is 5grams; so let’s take a standard diet and identify how much sugar an average person may consume in just one small meal

Breakfast:
1 bowl of cornflakes with skimmed milk = 15grams = 3 teaspoons of sugar
250ml orange juice – 25grams = 5 teaspoons

This is equivalent to 40grams of sugar in one meal and the government guidelines are 30g per day.

So as you can see it is not only fizzy drinks that are an issue for sugar obesity and ill health.

A standard chocolate bar has approx 54g of sugar and a can of fizzy drink approx 39g as you can see this quickly adds up.

sugar tax_3The person who consumed the cornflakes and orange juice may be under the illusion they are eating a healthy breakfast, if they and then add in 1 can of fizzy drink and a chocolate bar they have consumed 133g of sugar before they have had any other meals.

That is approximately 5 times the recommended daily amount!

Sugar is actually worse than nothing

It affects our health in the following ways:

– It makes the digestive system acidic and which causes vitamins and minerals to leach from the body, particularly calcium from the bones and teeth
– It suppresses the immune system and puts stress on the pancreas
– It affects liver function which can lead to a number of issues such as high blood pressure;
– It affects blood flow which can lead to gum disease, increased wrinkles, skin issues and acne
– It depletes B12 in the body, a deficiency of Vitamin B leads to fatigue, insomnia, difficulty focusing, indigestions, skin rashes, heart palpitations and cravings for sugar.

The sugar tax

It has been estimated a 20% sugar tax could raise up to a £1bn a year and Jamie Oliver has apparently said he would like to see that shared between the NHS and primary schools, BUT can we be guaranteed that this money will be used to educate children on the affects of sugar on their health and to fight obesity?

Or will it just be another tax swallowed up by the budget and not applied to improving the health of the nation?

I personally think education is the key and we need a more immediate solution, although the Sugar Tax may be a good start, I think the jury is still out on how affective it will be.

Connect with Expert Kerry Madgwick

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