Most people don’t check the sugar content of their food, and many oppose a sugar tax – despite being aware of the health risks
“Sugar is the new tobacco”, was the call from health experts recently as they launched a campaign to get food producers to dramatically reduce sugar levels in products. They warn that one in four adults in England is obese and the figures are set to rise to 60% of men, 50% of women and 25% of children by 2050 as sugar sneaks into foods unnoticed.
But a new YouGov survey for the Sunday Times finds that most people do not check the sugar content of their foods, despite being aware of the health risks.
While 88% think a high-sugar diet is a modest (45%) or severe (43%) health risk, and people are certainly more worried about sugar than salt (23% to 8%, respectively), only a third (32%) say they normally check the sugar content of their food.
59% do not normally do so.
Last year a study by Oxford University suggested that a 12p tax on fizzy drinks would cut consumption by 15%, where a 20-30% reduction could stop or reverse the obesity epidemic. 49% oppose introducing a tax on sugary products such as fizzy drinks, however, while 38% support it.
It emerged over the weekend that five out of eight members of a committee advising the government on sugar consumption have ‘worryingly close’ ties to companies such as Coca-Cola, Mars and Unilever. A spokesman for the Action on Sugar campaign said: “It’s like putting Dracula in charge of a blood bank”.