INDI Welcomes the Introduction of the Sugar Tax as One Step in the Fight Against Obesity
Ireland’s Sugar Tax is being introduced tomorrow, 1st May, which means that drinks with between 5 and 8 grams of sugar per 100ml will be subject to a tax of 20 cent per litre and those with above 8 grams will incur a levy of 30 cent per litre. This means that many cans of sweetened drinks will go up by 10 cent per can and by 60 cent for a 2 litre bottle. The Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute (INDI) welcomes the introduction of this tax as an important step but highlights that it is only one measure that will help address the major problem of obesity in Ireland.
The INDI hopes that the revenue raised from this new tax will be ring-fenced to fund public-health initiatives to help solve the obesity crisis, not least to fund more dietitians to improve access for the general public. There are many other measures which must be implemented to help control increasing obesity levels, such as introducing more healthy eating and physical activity programmes in schools and limiting the marketing of High Fat High Sugar foods to children.
The impact of this sugar levy is already obvious as many beverage manufacturers have reformulated their products to reduce the amount of sugar they contain in advance of the introduction of the tax and this is a welcome outcome. INDI hopes it will encourage people to reflect on their purchases and choose healthier options when it comes to drinks.
Childhood obesity is a national problem. One in four children on the island of Ireland are either overweight or obese and obese children are likely to become obese adults. One fifth of the energy intake from a child’s diet comes from sugary drinks, biscuits, confectionery, chocolate and cake. Short terms consequences include breathing difficulties, and phychological and social issues. Long terms effects include cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Safefood last year revealed that the total lifetime costs of childhood overweight and obesity on the island was estimated to be €7.2 billion euros. 21% of the total costs in the Republic of Ireland represented direct healthcare costs, i.e., hospital in-patient, out-patient, GP, drug costs. 79% of the total lifetime costs were indirect costs due to absenteeism, premature mortality and lifetime income losses. A 1% reduction in childhood BMI would generate a saving of €365 million.
Jennifer Feighan, CEO INDI says “We welcome this progressive and bold step to encourage producers to reduce sugar at source. We believe this will result in behaviour change and will help to reduce the intake of empty calories. It is however only one step - a wider programme of actions to reduce obesity in Ireland must be planned and implemented and we in INDI will continue our work to help patients and the general public to make the best and most appropriate dietary choices. We look forward to hearing the plans for the re-investment of this tax and hope it will fund more dietetic posts to improve access nationwide.”
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For further information and / or interview, please contact: Louise Reynolds, Communications Manager, INDI