Sugar! Should we put a tax on it?

The consumption of sugar with all its new found health implications is such a huge topic at the moment. We have always known about the way sugars affect our teeth and weight, but most recently links between other systemic illnesses have been made. The British Government has acknowledge the detrimental effects that bad sugar habits can have on public health and will be introducing a sugar tax from 2018, more specifically on sugary drinks (excluding fruit juices and milkshakes). Dental decay is the most common chronic disease, and we are seeing a rise in children. We are also seeing a massive rise in childhood obesity. So, should we be taxing sugar too?

A key factor for dental decay is sugar intake and one of the highest contributors to childhood obesity is sugary drinks. So with this in mind, is the amount of sugar we are consuming every day effecting our health? The World Health Organisation (WHO) have recently halved their recommended daily consumption of free sugar to 25grms for average weight adults. This is about 6 teaspoons. WHO doesn’t refer to the sugars in fresh fruits and vegetables, or those naturally occurring in milk as free sugars. Free sugars are defined as added sugars, honey and syrups, and sugar in fruit juice.

A recent study conducted by the University of Sydney, with over 8000 participants including children and adults, has discovered that 55% of participants consumed over the 10% WHO recommendation of ‘Free Sugars’. They have discovered that they are especially bad habits in children and adolescents, 76% 9-13 year old in the study exceeded there daily sugar intake. They have discovered that "treat" foods are not being used as that any more, getting consumed on a more frequent basis.

It has been estimated that introducing a 20% tax on sugary drinks in Australia  could raise $400 million a year, potentially saving 1600 lives over 25 years and will also save about $29 million a year in health expenditure. Thinking of our children’s future, it just makes sense. Its time for our government to take some decisive action and think of the health of our children.