Health experts push for “sugar tax” to cut child obesity
Health experts are calling for a “sugar tax” on those companies that fail to curb the level of sugar in their products.
Specialists have launched “Action on Sugar” campaign following a request from the health secretary Jeremy Hunt. The project is based on a seven-point agenda to tackle the country’s growing obesity problem.
Research showed one in four adults in England is obese and three in every ten children aged between two and 15 are overweight or obese. Experts believe these numbers are set to climb to 60 per cent of men, 50 per cent of women, and 25 per cent of children by 2050.
Obesity already costs the UK £5 billion every year, a sum which is likely to rise to £50 billion in the next 36 years.
The seven-point plan suggests obesity can be controlled if food producers cut sugar levels between 20 and 30 per cent in the next three years, the equivalent of 100 calories a day. However, the food industry relies extensively on sweeteners to make every type of food more palatable.
The campaign is also asking food companies to stop the advertisement of sugary drinks and snacks for children, claiming that sugar is as dangerous as alcohol or tobacco.
Britain has had cases of children being permanently removed from their families by social workers after their parents failed to monitor their weight. Such incidents have raised a great deal of controversy over obesity being considered a form of child abuse.
Professor of medicine at the University of Ottawa Yoni Freedhoff said: “Sugar is used as a means to pacify, entertain and reward children. We need to re-relegate sugar to the role of occasional treat rather than its current role of everyday, anytime, crutch.”
World Health Organisation figures show obesity levels worldwide have nearly doubled since 1980. In 2008, 35% of adults aged over 20 were overweight and 11% were obese.
According to the recent data released by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), England has high rate of obesity when compared to most other countries in the world.