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Thursday 17 March 2016

Sugar tax – a solution?

George Osborne announced a tax on sugary drinks as part of the budget on Wednesday (16 March). A similar tax in Mexico resulted in a 6% decrease in the sales of sugary drinks; but why has this been introduced?

Dr Ali Hill, a Registered Nutritionist and Course Leader for BSc Sport Coaching at Southampton Solent University, says we need to be more aware of what we are eating and drinking.

“Consuming too much food and drink with added sugars has been linked to tooth decay, Type 2 Diabetes and obesity; the sugar tax is one of many interventions we need to reduce these. Whilst a levy cannot tackle such a complex problem, it is a step in the right direction,” she says.

Dr Ali Hill

“Public Health England has today released a new Eatwell Guide, which includes a simple image showing the proportions of foods to eat to help achieve a balanced, healthier diet. The Eatwell Guide replaces the Eatwell Plate and includes recently released recommendations such as having no more than 5% of your energy from added sugar, and a higher fibre intake (from the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) 2015 report on Carbohydrates and Health). The Eatwell Guide emphasises consumption of more fruit, vegetable and starchy carbohydrates and fewer sugary foods and drinks.

“Although fruit juices aren’t included in the tax, the new Eatwell Guide states that you shouldn’t have more than 150ml of smoothies or fruit juices a day. Smoothies can be high in sugar and when you blitz the fruit you reduce the fibre, which goes against the recent increase in recommendations of fibre to 30 grams a day. The best advice, is to go for a whole food alternatives, such as eating an apple instead of making it into a juice. And also, replace sugary drinks with water.”

Dr Ali Hill is a Registered Nutritionist and Course Leader for BSc Sport Coaching at Southampton Solent University. Her areas of academic expertise are nutrition, healthy eating, diet and physical activity. She also specialises in nutrition for athletes and events (eg first marathon/triathlon); foetal programming (effect of diet in pregnancy on the offspring in later life); obesity; fats; and diet and the immune system.