Taxing fizzy drinks is not the solution
Doctors have called for fizzy drinks to be taxed so that prices rise by at least 20 per cent and for junk food adverts to be banned before the 9pm watershed. It is the latest attempt to curb the increasing problem of obesity. The UK is one of the world's heavyweights in this respect with about a quarter of adults classed as obese and the figure predicted to double by the year 2050.
The latest suggestions, which also include a reduction in fast food outlets near schools and leisure centres, come from the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, an organisation which represents most doctors in the UK.
It seems that sugary drinks have been singled out for special attention because they often contain not much more than sugar and water.
Even so, this approach does seem a little piecemeal.
Cheap Van Insurance For 17,18 & 19 Year Old Drivers - Call Insure365 01782 898188, Free Legal Protection Cover Included valued at £25.00!
Terms: 1 Voucher Per Customer
Contact: 01782 898188
Valid until: Monday, June 24 2013
There are many other products which contain high levels of sugar with little nutritional benefit and a good many more which are also heavy in fat and salt.
This issue surely requires a more comprehensive strategy than singling out a particular type of product.
Our preference would be for more information rather than more taxation.
As we have said in this column previously, consumers would most benefit from a simple, uniform and prominent labelling system containing information about calorie content and the quantities of fat and salt as well as an indication of whether the amount of each is high or low.
The food industry should be legally required to display this information and it should be applied to all products both in retailers and in restaurants, pubs and cafes.
This would allow consumers to make better informed decisions about what they eat and it would encourage the food industry to make sure the products it offers are as healthy as possible.
At the moment, this sort of information is generally available on products but it is neither prominent nor easy to understand, and is generally absent altogether in restaurants, cafes and so on.
What is needed is a system of labelling which is consistent and easily comprehensible at a glance. This is not particularly difficult to achieve and it would be a big step forward in dealing with the obesity crisis.