Should Hospitals Impose a Sugar Tax?

The NHS is to impose its own “sugar tax” in hospitals and health centres in England to help tackle the growing problem of obesity.

“We will be consulting on introducing an NHS sugar tax on various beverages and other sugar-added foods across the NHS which would be enforced over time as contracts for food catering and the shops that are in the foyers of hospitals come up for renewal over the next three to five years over a rolling basis,” Chief executive Simon Stevens told the Guardian newspaper.

He also said the NHS’s 1.3 million staff had a “responsibility” to lead by example, and urged MPs to take similar action.

Sugar… Is the NHS right to tax it?

I asked this question on Facebook when I heard the news…

“Yes, it’s a good thing, definitely!” said Ged.

Neil disagreed, saying, “I’m not convinced it will make any difference.”

Perhaps he has a point. Will a 20% price increase really make an impact? Would a drug addict or alcoholic stop their addiction because of a 20% increase in price?

Did you know that the networks in your brain responsible for pleasure and reward are sensitive to sugar (and that glucose (a form of sugar) is your brain’s main source of energy)?

Canadian researchers have found that processed sugars can cause behavioural reactions “similar to those produced by drugs of abuse, such as cocaine”, so maybe Neil has a point.

Adam pointed out that there are taxes on alcohol and cigarettes and that he supports the idea of processed sugars being taxed too.

Should there be a tax on all drug-like foods?

A few people suggested that hospitals should simply remove products with added sugar altogether, with others calling for better food education.

Some of the comments said it was just another money making scheme, like this one from Beth:

“It’s like the speed awareness cameras! Just there to generate money! If they wanted to slow people down they’d ban them on first offence! Take the blooming fizzy drinks out of the NHS vending machines!!! Supply water!”

For me the real answer to the ever-growing increase in lifestyle disease is education. Only when people truly understand the ingredients (such as the amount of sugar) hiding in so called ‘food’ and the impact it is having on the health of their families will we start to see significant change.

If the income raised from this tax is invested in education and prevention, rather than trying cure the symptoms, then I support it.

Make a difference

If you too want to see less processed, sugar and artificial chemical laden, ’foods’ then there is another way to show your support…

Every time you buy food you vote. Shops, cafes and restaurants only offer the foods people are buying. Ultimately if you want to see processed foods disappear, don’t buy them.




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