Sugar tax not the most effective way of tackling childhood obesity

sugarConsuming sugary drinks isn’t necessarily linked with childhood obesity, a new study has found.

The study showed there was no significant differences between BMIs of children who consume sugary drinks and those who don’t.

It concludes by saying the sugar tax might not be the most effective tactic to fight childhood obesity.

‘High intake of added sugars was not directly correlated with high energy consumption,’ Ola Anabtawi, who led the research, said.

‘Relying on a single-nutrient to tackle childhood obesity in the form of a soft drink tax might not be the most effective tactic.

‘Our findings indicate that drinking sugar-sweetened beverages is not a behaviour particular to children with a higher body weight.

‘On the contrary, framing sugar reduction in tackling obesity might reinforce negative stereotypes around “unhealthy dieting”.

‘Instead, policies should focus on children whose consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks substantially increases their total sugar intake with other public health interventions.’

The complexities of sugar consumption

The study, from the University of Nottingham, analysed data from 1,300 children aged four to 10.

It found 61% of children consumed at least one sugary drink between 2008 and 2016.

Despite this, 78% of those that drank a sugary drink didn’t exceed their recommended total daily calorie intake.

‘The study should not be seen as reassurance that we can relax about sugar-sweetened drinks,’ Dr Katarina Kos, told The Independent.

‘But as the authors also say, it highlights the complexity of [the] environment.

‘Children do exercise less than they used to, thus need fewer calories and less energy, whatever the source.’

Declining levels

Children are exceeding the recommended sugar intake of an 18-year-old by the time they reach 10, Public Health England (PHE) says.

The figures show children are consuming around eight more sugar cubes every day than is recommended.

This is despite children’s sugar intake levels declining slightly in recent years.

‘Children are consuming too much sugar,’ Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE, said.

‘But parents can take action now to prevent this building up over the years.

‘To make this easier for busy families, Change4life is offering a straightforward solution.

‘By making simple swaps each day, children can have healthier versions of everyday foods and drinks, while significantly reducing their sugar intake.’

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