The College has welcomed the introduction of the soft drink industry levy, but has warned that more action must be taken to reduce the public’s sugar consumption to healthier levels.

The introduction of the “sugar tax” on 6 April is a step in the right direction, but there remain high levels of sugar in other items such as foodstuffs, caffeinated drinks, milkshakes and fruit smoothies. The College also welcomes the move by most supermarkets to prevent the sale of energy drinks to under 16s, but wants the Scottish Government to examine the possibility of legislation to restrict the sale of energy drinks nationwide. The College is concerned about the high level of sugar and caffeine in these products.

Finally, the College believes that supermarkets can do more to promote healthy alternatives to junk food. It wants industry leaders to turn away from junk food promotions, including multi-buy deals – and instead offer their customers better value on foods supported by Food Standards Scotland’s “Eatwell Guide” including fresh fruit, and food low in fat, salt and sugar.

Professor Derek Bell OBE, President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, said:

“Whilst I’m pleased that the sugar tax is now in effect, more can be done to ensure that as a nation, we are consuming less sugar – and indeed less salt and fatty junk food. The onus is on both government and on the supermarket industry to promote healthy alternatives to junk food. It is vital that consumers have a range of choice about what they consume, so that they can assess what is right for them.

“The College believes that obesity is not inevitable, it’s a crisis by design. Yet, hospital admissions for obesity have more than doubled in the last four years. This has put a great strain on the NHS, both from a budgetary standpoint, and also in terms of staff resource and time. This is greatly concerning, especially given that obesity is preventable. Several of the College’s Members have contacted me to raise their experiences of tackling obesity on the “front line” of the health sector.

“Type II diabetes is also on the rise, with 90-95% of diabetes patients evaluated to be suffering from the condition. It is estimated that obesity management costs the NHS in Scotland around £600 million, and approximately 10% of the NHS budget for England and Wales is spent managing diabetes and its wide spectrum of complications.

“It is vital, therefore, that the obesity and diabetes issue is better managed. This can be done by better regulating the sale of energy drinks and by promoting healthier food such as fruit and vegetables, whilst making them more affordable to consumers. We look forward to the Scottish Government’s new strategy on diet, activity and healthy weight and hope that it will bring about real change, and ensure that supermarkets and advertisers do more.”


The full article was covered by Herald Scotland:

Paul Gillen

Contact: Paul Gillen 0131 247 3658