Can the government really put a tax on sugar?


African woman eating spoon of sugar

The evils of sugar have been so widely written about over the past few months that it wouldn't be long before someone decided we should tax it; and that honour goes to chief medical officer Sally Davies.

Sugar is the new diet demon; expanding our waistlines, causing addition, and making our teeth fall out. As a nation we are consuming more and more of it, and it's in everything – including hidden in things you wouldn't expect, from sausage rolls to soup.

The rise of the diet food industry isn't helping either, the low-fat meals that you think are good for you are often replacing yummy fat with yummy sugar; they have to make low-fat yogurt taste good somehow.

So if everything has sugar in it how can we tax it without applying a generic tax on food that would affect everyone, unless you're living a very virtuous life eating lentils and vegetables.

It's unworkable to tax all food but any move the government could make to tax those things we know contain lots of sugar and we know are bad for us – chocolates, crisps and fizzy drinks.

The idea of taxing bad foods is a bit of a liberal dream as it infers that everyone will start eating more green stuff and living healthier lives. However, in reality it probably means that poorer people, who are more likely to buy sugar-laden foods that are cheap, will actually just be paying more for their rubbish food.

The price of eating fresh fruit and vegetables is out of range of many families in the UK. You can buy a bag of chips for £1 that will feed your children whereas you wouldn't be able to buy enough to make a meal if you were stood in your local greengrocer.

If the government were to tax sugar, or fat, or unhealthy foods (which I doubt will happen thanks to the lobbying forces of the food industry) then it would need a sensible plan to use that money to benefit the nation's health.

I'd like to see that tax cash turned into fruit and vegetable vouchers for those who receive some sort of benefit, possibly child benefit and most definitely working tax credits.

This would ensure that people would be able to feed their children good foods and also feed themselves, after all a healthier diet means a healthier body and if we want people to be fit for work then we need to help them cover the cost of being healthy.