Sugar reduction: from evidence into action

Sugar reduction: from evidence into action

A report compiled by Public Health England (PHE), the government’s advisory group, recently urged UK ministers to impose a sugar tax of 10%-20% in sugary foods/drinks. The experts also pushed for a crackdown on the marketing of unhealthy products to children such as two-for-one deals in supermarkets in an effort to tackle childhood obesity. The current average sugar intake is estimated to account for 12%-15% of people’s energy intake instead of the recommended 5%. The British Prime Minister Cameron however does not see the need for a tax on sugar despite PHE report’s stating that radical action is needed to reverse current nutritional trends: “Consuming too many foods and drinks high in sugar can lead to weight gain and related health problems […] Almost 25% of adults, 10% of four to five year-olds and 19% of 10- to 11 year-olds in England are obese, with a significant number also being overweight. Treating obesity and its consequences alone currently costs the National Health Service (NHS) £ 5.1 bn every year.”

UK sugar intake compared to the recommended maximum of 5% energy 2008-2012

UK sugar intake compared to the recommended maximum of 5% energy 2008-2012

Similar to the UK, sugar intake is one of the main causes of the rising NCD burden in the Asia-Pacific-Region. The growing NCD burden within the region will be accompanied by increased and in some instances catastrophic spending in already fragile health systems. According to the WHO Working Group on Financing for NCDs, domestic public resources are likely to be the main source of NCD-funding within the next decade as it is unlikely that international donors or International Organizations will cover the bill. Taxation of unhealthy products as suggested by the PHE is a low-cost solution for minimizing the consumption of unhealthy products – as the results of the PHE report show – while at the same time allocating domestic financial resources to the fight against NCDs.

Read the full report Here

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