A UK think tank has suggested that sugar consumption should be treated in the same way as smoking, in a bid to clamp down on public health issues, including obesity, type 2 diabetes and childhood decay.
In the last decade, every effort has been made to discourage people from smoking, and initiatives like prohibiting public smoking, adding warnings to packaging, banning advertising and selling cigarettes in plain boxes, have all had an extremely positive impact. In 2017, the number of smokers in England hit an all-time low.
Based on the success of measures enforced over the last 10 years, the Institute for Public Policy Research has compiled a new report, which suggests that sugary foods should be sold in plain packaging. Tom Kibasi, director of IPPR, believes that eliminating alluring wrappers and labels would help parents to resist “pester power.” The think tank would like to see this move introduced as part of a wider range of initiatives, including a ban on junk food advertising.
Representatives from the food and drink industry have been quick to respond to the report. The Food and Drink Federation suggested that branding represents a “fundamental commercial freedom,” which is vital for competition. Similar arguments were put forward by leading tobacco companies, but the government stood firm and it remains to be seen what kinds of measures will be introduced surrounding the promotion of sugary foods in the future.
A sugar tax has already been enforced on fizzy drinks, but with rates of obesity and childhood decay increasing, many health experts believe that more forceful action needs to be taken to reduce sugar consumption, especially among children. The latest research indicates that the average teenager in England consumers three-times the recommended intake of sugar.