The New Sugar Tax: Why Is It Being Implemented, and Will It Help?

The new tax to be introduced on sugar-heavy drinks, announced earlier in 2016, has got us all wondering if we play a part in this governmental concern about the sugar consumption of our generation.

As we all know, consuming too much sugar is bad for your health, in particular increasing risks of heart disease, diabetes and obesity later in life.

Research states that the average woman should consume no more than 25g of sugar per day (that’s 6 teaspoons), and men only 37.5g (or 9 teaspoons), yet it is estimated that children and teenagers consume three times the recommended level, with adults faring just as badly.

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This is definitely something to be concerned about, as consuming too much sugar has many worrying effects that often people just aren’t aware of.

Firstly, too much sugar intake can cause resistance to insulin, which is a vital hormone to the body (it allows glucose (blood sugar) to enter cells from the bloodstream and tells the cells to start burning glucose instead of fat). Insulin resistance is not only what leads to type 2 diabetes, but it can also increase chances of cancer, as insulin is a key hormone for the regulation of cell growth.

Secondly, because it causes a massive release of dopamine in the reward centre of the brain, sugar is highly addictive, meaning that people who have a susceptibility to addiction can become strongly addicted to sugar and other junk foods.

Furthermore, sugar is even more responsible than saturated fats for the rising of cholesterol levels and subsequently causing heart disease risk, which is the #1 killer in the world.

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While many people would look at these facts and resolve to consume sugar in moderation, the availability of overly sugary products in our society (such as fizzy drinks) problematises this. Often, especially if labels are not constantly checked, people end up consuming much more sugar than they are supposed to, without even realising that they are doing it.

For example, many of our favourite fizzy drinks (such as Coca-cola, Dr Pepper, Irn Bru and Red Bull) contain over 8g of sugar per 100ml, meaning that just one 350ml can would contain more than your recommended daily allowance of sugar intake.

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George Osborne hopes that the tax really will have an impact, especially seeing as similar taxes have worked in five other countries, with some methods reducing consumption of fizzy drinks by up to one quarter.

The introduction of this tax shows a parliamentary effort to improve the younger generation’s health, as the estimated £520m raised will be put towards boosting primary school sports. It is also important for raising awareness among our population of the risks of too much sugar consumption, and hopefully, as Britain joins the growing list of countries with levies on unhealthy food, we will gradually become a more health-conscious nation.