In a bid to curb rampant childhood obesity, some groups in the British Parliament urged the government to issue food standards that are compulsory in all schools and introduce the controversial ‘sugar tax.’ But is sugar tax a good thing? The UK thinks so, apparently.
The House of Commons’ health committee recently urged education officials to change current food standards in all U.K. schools. Earlier this year, new standards were set in place requiring schools to provide three different veggies and fruits every week and offer diary products on a daily basis.
Nevertheless, nearly 4,000 institutions and free schools do not have to abide by these rules. But about 1,400 schools pledged to go by the new standards voluntarily. Yet, some MPs currently want the standards to be compulsory to all schools and push the sugar tax to become reality.
Sugar tax advocates explained that by the time they start school about one-fifth of students have weight problems. Plus, by the time students end primary school that figure jumps to one-third.
The health committee recommend new standards for both pre-packaged food and food offered for lunch in school cafeterias. The committee also hopes that the new ‘lunchbox standards’ would help teachers have significant discussions with parents on their kids’ diets.
Members of the health committee also wrote in a recent report supporting the sugar tax that, in their vision, it is an ‘anomaly’ that some schools and institutions are exempted from the foods standards.
They also wrote in the report that the new strategy is designed to improve health of all school-age children, not just of some. This is why the committee now calls for the food standards to be applied in both public and private schools across Britain.
The cross-party group also said that a sugar tax of 20 percent on sugary beverages may help the government make important saving with health care costs triggered by childhood obesity. In the U.K., the National Health Service (NHS) spends about £5 billion on obesity every year.
Some health groups also urge the British government to force food producers to halve sugar use in their products sold in the nation’s supermarkets. In October, the British Prime Minister rejected a sugar tax despite a government report that showed the tax would help lower health care costs.
The committee also called for a ban on TV ads that promote high-sugar, high-salt, and high-fat products within the interval when children watch TV, and proposed to place graphic signs of how much sugar a sugary drink contains on bottles.
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