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Diabetes UK backs new sugar tax introduced today

By Editor
6th April 2018
Type 2 prevention

A tax on fizzy drinks has come into force in a bid to prevent obesity and type 2 diabetes.

People who rely on energy drinks to treat hypos are being urged to check labels to ensure the carbohydrates have not dropped in response to the levy, with Lucozade already halving its sugar content.

The Soft Drinks Industry Levy dubbed ‘the sugar tax’ will increase the price of fizzy beverages containing substantial amounts of sugar.

The move comes as a response to rising obesity levels and concerns over sugar consumption, with the average teenager consuming three times more sugar than recommended as a share of calories, according to the National Diet and Nutrition Survey 2008-2014

Evidence shows that this levy has the potential to prevent obesity in up to 140,000 adults and children each year and, in turn, prevent nearly 19,000 cases of type 2 diabetes, Bridget Turner, director of policy, campaigns and improvement at Diabetes UK

Also this week, NHS Digital announced that admissions to NHS hospitals where obesity was recorded as either a primary or secondary diagnosis increased by 18 per cent within a year.

Manufacturers of soft drinks containing more than 5g of sugar per 100ml will have to pay 18p per litre to the Treasury, with the levy rising to 24p a litre if drinks contain over 8g of sugar per 100ml.

Some companies have reformulated drinks, often swapping artificial sweeteners for sugar, but Coca-Cola has opted to stay with its original recipe, although its expected the bottles and cans will shrink. Lucozade introduced a new formula in April 2017, reducing 17g of carbohydrate in 100ml of Lucozade Original to 8.9g.  People who suffer from hypos are advised to drink 15-20g of sugar to treat their low blood sugar.

The UK joins a small collection of nations, including Mexico, France and Norway, which have introduced similar taxes. In Mexico, the introduction of a tax on fizzy drinks cut consumption by an average of 4.2litres per person.

Diabetes UK, through its key role in the Obesity Health Alliance, has been a vocal supporter of the policy. Bridget Turner, director of policy, campaigns and improvement at Diabetes UK, said: “Evidence shows that this levy has the potential to prevent obesity in up to 140,000 adults and children each year and, in turn, prevent nearly 19,000 cases of type 2 diabetes. We’ve long supported this policy, and welcome it coming into force.

“However, it is important to note that many people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes use high sugar products to treat hypos; reformulation and price increases will both have an impact on this. People with diabetes who use sugary drinks to treat hypos should be sure to read the labels to check the sugar content.

“That said, there are clear health benefits to the whole population if we are all able to reduce the amount of free sugar in our diet. This policy will go some way to helping make this possible.”

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