Sugar Tax in UK considered for slowing down Obesity and Type 2 diabetes

Obesity is still on the sharp rise, and the number of obese people will hit 40% in the coming 10 years. Attempts to educate the public about the dangers of obesity do not work when the food industry is still spending minimum USD 300 Mio per annum promoting unhealthy food and drinks. According to obesity experts a sugar tax of 50 per cent is needed to drastically change drinking and eating habits of children and adults. Also the British “National Obesity Forum” said the 20 per cent rate recommended by Public Health England would be an “insufficient” deterrent for buying sugary food and drinks.

The biggest threat for the coming years however, is the amount of people with so called “prediabetes”. Prediabetes is characterized by blood glucose levels that are abnormally elevated but are not high enough yet to be classified as Type 2 diabetes. Prediabetes increases the risk for Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. In the US for example the facts are devastating:

  • 86 million people in the United States have prediabetes—and 9 out of 10 of them do not know they have it.
  • Recent studies suggest that 1 out of 3 people over the age of 18, and half of people over age 65, have prediabetes.
  • Without lifestyle changes to improve their health, 15%-30% of people with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within 5 years.

However, as we all know there is an effective treatment that can prevent or delay Type 2 diabetes in those at high risk: a structured lifestyle program that provides real-life support for healthful eating, increasing physical activity, and increased self-discipline.

For most countries, tackling obesity will require a national effort. Only a coherent, sustained and concentrated set of initiatives, implemented on a large scale, will be effective in the middle-term. On the other hand individual initiatives of governments, food producers, retailers, restaurants, media organizations, health-care providers, or individuals – cannot address obesity on its own. Raising a sugar tax is just the beginning of a long and winding road!

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