Did anyone see Jamie’s Sugar Rush on Channel 4 a few weeks ago? Jamie Oliver’s new campaign to tackle childhood obesity by reducing sugar intake through a sugar tax on soft drinks.
It was an excellent programme and showed, among many other things, how successful a sugar tax on soft drinks has been in the world’s fattest country, Mexico.
I signed up to the petition – which you can do too via his Sugar Rush site – and I am glad to say that it now has nearly 143,000 signature which means that it will at least be considered for a parliamentary debate.
Meanwhile… I have just had the following response from HM Gov. Petitions Department/DOH:
The Government has no plans to introduce a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. The Government will announce its plans for tackling childhood obesity by the end of the year.
The Government has no plans to introduce a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.
The Government has committed to a tax lock to avoid raising the cost of living and to promote UK productivity and economic growth, however, the Government keeps all taxes under review, with decisions being a matter for the Chancellor as part of the Budget process.
The causes of obesity are complex, caused by a number of dietary, lifestyle, environmental and genetic factors, and tackling it will require a comprehensive and broad approach. As such, the Government is considering a range of options for tackling childhood obesity, and the contribution that Government, alongside industry, families and communities can make, and will announce its plans for tackling childhood obesity by the end of the year.
Department of Health
Well, well – what a surprise… It was inevitable that the soft drinks industry would be in there making their case before Jamie, or anyone else, had even opened their mouths. But how come the government has not yet got any plans to tackle childhood obesity? How long has this been a problem? 20 years? How long do they need?
Well, we shall all await the end of the year – but I can’t say that my hopes are high. If progress it going be made I suspect it will only be in reponse to pressure from high profile campaigners and seriously focused groups – such as Jamie or Professor Graham McGregor who had such success with his CASH salt reduction campaign. Fortunately for obese children, Prof McGregor is on the sugar case too – see his Action on Sugar.
For those interested in the sugar debate, the British Society for Ecological Medicine is running one of their excellent conferences on SUGAR – The Brain, the Microbiome and Cancer on October 2nd in London. You can book a ticket here.