Britain has now joined Mexico and France in taxing businesses when they compromise the health of our children. I don't believe it's anti-business. In the UK, kids and teenagers' single largest source of sugar is from sugary sweetened drinks and with one-third of kids overweight or obese, these statistics cannot be taken lightly anymore. Of course, industry totally disagree - what they all agree on is personal responsibility and self-regulation, and look where that got us. The announcement of a sugary drinks tax has sent ripples around the world, especially in countries where they're also struggling with childhood obesity.
There has been a rise almost 10% in child hospital admissions for severe tooth decay in England over the last four years. Researchers have pointed to a strong correlation between area deprivation and the rate of tooth extraction. Which is why I find it bizarre that one of the main arguments deployed against the sugary drinks tax is that it will hit the poorest hardest. Irrespective of how much income people have, how is it morally sound to keep the prices of dangerous food low? Powerful companies spend a lot of money each year advertising to us and selling us sugary drinks that are giving us diabetes and more. They put them in front of us all day in train stations, newsagents, even leisure centres.It is time for society to protect itself and our children.
Some of the critics of the tax have said that this is a step too far and product labelling would give parents the knowledge they need and allow them to make an informed choice but as Jamie Oliver, the celebrity chef and food campaigner has said "the time for gentle words has passed. We need to be bold". I couldn't agree more because the safety of our children is at stake. This is a step change in improving the nation's health and will save lives.
Sugar is and will always be a treat, just like a glass of wine or the occasional cigarette but when there are equally bad effects on the health then surely its time that we call a cut on the amount that we consume. It may taste sweet initially, but the long term effects which aren't being showed to us should make you feel bitter.
Sensationalist headlines around Jamie Oliver calling for a sugar tax are not helpful for the public health debate, as it makes the situation seem far too simplistic, when life never is. In the 1970s and 80s the health message was that fat was bad and the people should move their eating habits in the direction of carbohydrates.