Food and Behaviour Research

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5 March 2014 - BBC News - Sugar tax may be necessary, England's chief medical officer says

A sugar tax may have to be introduced to curb obesity rates, the chief medical officer for England has said.

FAB RESEARCH COMMENT:

We’d like to congratulate Dame Sally Davies for coming out in support of a tax on sugar. This is what a large number of medical authorities, other health professionals, charities and support groups have been calling for, for some time - and it's very refreshing that someone of her seniority and influence is showing that she is willing to stand up to the food and drinks industry on this.  The excessive consumption of sugar has become a major public health issue.  The evidence is now very clear that our over-consumption of sugar is a significant contributor to the current epidemics of both physical and mental health disorders.

One of the world's leading experts on childhood obesity - Professor Robert Lustig MD of USA - has long argued that sugar is both addictive and toxic when consumed chronically at high doses. This is why sugar is being called 'the new tobacco', and when something is both addictive and toxic, there is a clear case for government regulation - as with both alcohol and tobacco.

FAB Research will shortly be announcing details of another special symposium with Robert Lustig, to take place on 10th July at The Royal College of Surgeons, London.  If you would like to be kept informed about this event, please sign up for our free e-news bulletins on the home page.  See our Events section for further information.

Dame Sally Davies told a committee of MPs that unless the government was strong with food and drink manufacturers, it was unlikely they would reformulate their products.

She said she believed "research will find sugar is addictive", and that "we may need to introduce a sugar tax".

The food industry said it was working on reducing sugar in products.

Speaking to the health select committee, Dame Sally said: "We have a generation of children who, because they're overweight and their lack of activity, may well not live as long as my generation.

"They will be the first generation that live less, and that is of great concern."
Education urged

She said being overweight had been "normalised", adding: "I worry that we have re-sized a women's dress size so that a size 14 now was a size 12 when I was student.

"We have to find a new way - not of ostracising people who are obese and making them feel bad about themselves - but somehow of helping them to understand this is pathological and will cause them harm."

She said she thought researchers would find that sugars were addictive, and the public needed to have "a big education" over how "calorie packed" some smoothies, fruit juices and carbonated drinks wereShe said: "People need to know one's fine, but not lots of them.

"We may need to move towards some form of sugar tax, but I hope we don't have to."