i Deputy Editor's Letter: Sugar tax


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The Independent Online


“Another tax? Aren’t we hit with enough taxes already!” I hear you say as you turn the page. Our cover story, which adds another voice to the growing campaign against sugar and the damage it is doing to our health, won’t be popular among chocoholics.

Speaking to the Health Select Committee yesterday, the Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies said that “sugar has become addictive” and that we have “normalised being overweight”. But is taxing the answer? If it really is addictive, surely it will just hit the consumer in the pocket, topping up the Treasury coffers in the process.

The food industry says that it has been working hard to reduce sugar in products – something which can’t really be disputed, even if much of it has been accidental. Manufacturers have long been raising prices while quietly shrinking the size of their chocolate bars. But, of course, this isn’t just about chocolate.

When consumers look for more healthy options, we often focus on reducing our salt and calorie intake, paying no more than casual attention to sugar content. You don’t need to have many cakes, biscuits, fizzy drinks or ready meals to quickly reach the recommended daily amount of 70g for men, or 50g for women. Sugary foods and drinks not only cause tooth decay, they contribute to your risk of diabetes and being overweight or obese.

So therein lies the answer. While causing financial pain may be a short-term answer, education provides a more sustainable solution. Do the two have to work in conjunction? The choices are out there – the incentive of living a longer, healthier life should be enough.


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