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The way out of sugar tax: how can children be protected from sugar bomb drinks?


Effective measures against obesity: Protect children from sugar-rich soft drinks

Soft drinks are often a major cause of childhood overweight. Health experts therefore welcome the fact that there will soon be a manufacturer levy on such drinks in the UK. They call for more effective measures against obesity to be taken in Germany too.

As much sugar as in two handfuls of gummy bears

Parents keep asking themselves how many sweets are really allowed for children. Hardly anyone would agree if it were said that it would be okay to give the offspring two handfuls of gummy bears a day. But the average amount of sugar in 11- to 17-year-olds in Germany consumes through soft drinks every day, reports the German Alliance for Noncommunicable Diseases (THANKS) in a message published by the "Informationsdienst Wissenschaft" (idw). In other countries, governments are doing something about the sugar bomb drinks. The responsible parties should also take action in this country.

Measure against liquid calorie bombs

In recent years, experts have repeatedly asked for higher taxes on unhealthy foods to combat obesity.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has also spoken in favor of special taxes on beverages containing sugar.

Great Britain is now doing something about the liquid calorie bombs: From April 6, 2018, there will be a manufacturer levy on soft drinks.

The German Alliance for Non-Communicable Diseases (THANKS) calls for a similar measure for Germany in order to reduce the high level of soft drink consumption.

“We must not continue to watch how sugar-coated products endanger our children's health. And that doesn't just apply to soft drinks, ”says pediatrician PD Dr. med. Burkhard Rodeck, General Secretary of the German Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.

Several manufacturers have significantly reduced sugar levels

The UK soft drink tax is 18 pence (20 cents) per liter if the drink contains 5 g or more sugar per 100 ml. From 8 g sugar it increases to 28 pence (32 cents).

The measure is already having an effect before it comes into force: several manufacturers have significantly reduced the sugar content in their products.

Berkeley / California, where it has already been introduced, proves that a levy also slows down consumption. Sales of soft drinks fell by up to 21% in succession - a huge benefit for the health of consumers.

In Germany, on the other hand, the consumption of soft drinks remains at a high level. On average, 11- to 17-year-olds drink over 300 ml of cola, fanta or the like - almost a whole can!

This corresponds to 30 grams of sugar, about as much as is contained in 65 g (or two handfuls) of gummy bears. "This trend cannot be stopped with appeals to parents," says Rodeck. "Politics are required here."

Projects on healthy eating in schools are in no way sufficient to stop the risky trend: "We need measures that are permanent and reach the entire population."

Raise VAT rate

The experts are calling for the value added tax rate for soft drinks in Germany to be increased from the current 19% to 29%. For unhealthy products like ready-made pizzas, the rate should rise to 19% (instead of 7% today).

In return, fruit and vegetables (today 7%) should be exempt from VAT entirely. A study by the University of Hamburg had calculated what effects this graduation would have on nutrition and body weight.

Result: The proportion of very overweight people would not increase further, but would decrease by approximately 8% in men and by 3% in women.

Many industrialized countries around the world are already taking political measures against obesity. But in Germany, these fail primarily because of the lobbying of the food industry.

In the coalition agreement, the new federal government has now announced a "national strategy to reduce obesity, especially among children and adolescents".

"This must include tax measures to counter the high consumption of soft drinks," says DANK spokeswoman Barbara Bitzer. (ad)

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