There’s no doubt that you have seen, heard and read about the introduction of a sugar tax in the UK that was passed recently. It’s a bold move in the fight against obesity, and took years of lobbying by health groups to become a reality. So what does that mean for us in Australia?
It has certainly caused many of us to question the absence of any kind of control on the escalating sugar being poured into our food. At Healthy Food Guide we posted a question on our Facebook page asking whether you think we should introduce a similar tax and hike the price of sugar-sweetened drinks.
Your comments were mixed. While some people were staunch supporters, there was strong resistance from others who argued it was an invasion of their freedom of choice, and who didn’t want the government controlling what they eat and drink.
And of course, some people felt annoyed that they should have to pay for other people’s poor choices at the supermarket.
Many questioned the government’s motive, suggesting it was yet another tax to raise money, and wondered where that money would be spent. (In the UK the government says it will spend the revenue raised from the sugar tax on sport and fitness programs for kids).
But the point that caused the most noise was ‘what about other sugary foods?’ Sugar isn’t confined to sweetened drinks, it’s hiding in everyday foods like sauces, cereal and yoghurt.
So it’s a fair point. But we have to start somewhere. And targeting sugary drinks is a good start, for numerous studies link a high intake of soft drink and fruit juice to obesity in children. While a tax on sugary drinks isn’t a magic bullet that will fix the problem of obesity, it’s worth considering this: sugar infiltrated our food supply slowly, so we can’t expect to eradicate it in one fell swoop.
At Healthy Food Guide, we want to help people make healthier choices at the supermarket. And if raising the price of soft drinks gently encourages people to make healthier choices, then we’re all for it.