Call for sugar tax on cakes and bis­cuits

● Change of fo­cus on source of sugar lead­ing to obe­sity

The Scotsman - - FRONT PAGE - By KE­VAN CHRISTIE

A study sug­gests tax­ing high-sugar snacks such as bis­cuits, cakes and sweets might be more ef­fec­tive at re­duc­ing obe­sity lev­els than in­creas­ing the price of sugar-sweet­ened drinks.

An ar­ti­cle in the Bri­tish Med­i­cal Jour­nal says this op­tion “is wor­thy of fur­ther re­search and con­sid­er­a­tion”.

In Scot­land, about 29 per cent of chil­dren are at risk of be­com­ing over­weight.

Tax­ing high-sugar snacks such as bis­cuits, cake sand sweets might be more ef­fec­tive at re­duc­ing obe­sity lev­els than in­creas­ing the price of sugar-sweet­ened drinks, a study sug­gests.

Writ­ing in the Bri­tish Med­i­cal Jour­nal to­day, re­searchers say that this op­tion “is wor­thy of fur­ther re­search and con­sid­er­a­tion as part of an in­te­grated ap­proach to tack­ling obe­sity”.

Obe­sity rates are in­creas­ing around the world.

In the UK, obe­sity is es­ti­mated to af­fect about one in four adults and around one in five chil­dren aged 10 to 11, with higher rates among those liv­ing in de­prived ar­eas.

In Scot­land around 29 per cent of chil­dren are at risk of be­com­ing over­weight (in­clud­ing obese), with re­searchers from the Univer­sity of Strath­clyde hav­ing es­ti­mated that more than 100,000 young Scots are obese.

The use of taxes to lower sugar and en­ergy in­take has mainly fo­cused on sugar sweet­ened drinks.

But in the UK, high-sugar snacks, such as bis­cuits, cakes, choco­lates and sweets, make up more free sugar and en­ergy in­take than sug­ary drinks.

Re­duc­ing pur­chases of high­sugar snacks there­fore has the po­ten­tial to make a greater im­pact on pop­u­la­tion health than re­duc­ing the pur­chase of sug­ary drinks.

To ex­plore this in more de­tail, re­searchers used eco­nomic mod­el­ling to as­sess the im­pact of a 20 per cent price in­crease on high-sugar snack foods in the UK.

Mod­el­ling was based on food pur­chase data for 36,324 UK house­holds and Na­tional Diet and Nu­tri­tion Sur­vey data for 2,544 adults.

Results were grouped by house­hold in­come and body mass in­dex( B MI) toes ti­mate changes in weight and preva­lence of obe­sity over one year.

The results sug­gest that, for all in­come groups com­bined, in­creas­ing the price of bis­cuits, cakes, choco­late sand sweets by 20 per cent would re­duce an­nual av­er­age en­ergy in­take by around 8,900 calo­ries, lead­ing to an av­er­age weight loss of 1.3 kg over one year.

In con­trast, a sim­i­lar price in­crease on sug­ary drinks would re­sult in an av­er­age weight loss of just 203g over one year.

Pow­ers to in­tro­duce such levi es are re­served to the UK Gov­ern­ment.

How­ever, a Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment spokesper­son said: “Over­con­sump­tion of prod­ucts such as snacks and sug­ar­sweet­ened bev­er­ages is di­rectly con­tribut­ing to high lev­els of obe­sity in Scot­land.

“Tack­ling obe­sity is a pub­lic health pri­or­ity and our Diet and Healthy Weight De­liv­ery Plan in­cludes spe­cific mea­sures to help fam­i­lies make health­ier choices.

“This in­cludes in­tro­duc­ing a Re­strict­ing Foods Pro­mo­tions Bill be­fore the end of this par­lia­men­tary ses­sion.”

“This is wor­thy of fur­ther re­search and con­sid­er­a­tion as part of an in­te­grated ap­proach to tack­ling obe­sity” RE­SEARCHERS IN THE BRI­TISH MED­I­CAL JOUR­NAL

0 The es­ti­mated weight loss from mak­ing high-sugar snacks more ex­pen­sive was greater than that achieved by tax­ing sug­ary drinks

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