As a personal trainer in London for the last 13 years, I was amazed and delighted in equal measure to see a sugar tax on sugary drinks introduced in yesterday’s Budget. Chancellor George Osborne has gone up in my estimations, because he has just announced a policy which will have a massive positive effect on the health & wellbeing of Britain’s kids.
The sugar tax is set to raise £520 million a year when it comes into force in 2 years time. Why not introduce it right now, rather than wait for 2 years, is my only criticism.
The money raised will pay for increased funding for primary school physical activity in England. Scotland and Wales get to decide what to do with the extra revenue.
There will be two bands of tax: one for sugary drinks with over 5g sugar per 100ml, and a higher rate tax for sugary drinks with over 8g sugar per 100ml.
The recommended maximum sugar intake per day (for people over 11 years old) is 30g, which is equivalent to 6 teaspoons of sugar. A teaspoon of sugar is 5g. So a can of Coke which contains 35g sugar is already over the daily health limit, and many kids drink at least double this amount.
The brands which will be hardest hit are Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola, Red Bull, and Iron Bru. The share prices of the companies which manufacture these drinks fell yesterday. It’s amazing to see a Conservative government stand up for the kids of this country for once, rather than always siding with the powerful junk food industry.
As a personal trainer in London with clients who have kids, I’m so pleased to see a policy which finally puts people’s health first. Its very long overdue and very rare to see. When I go into the kitchens of London clients I see sugary cereals, cakes, biscuits, chocolate spreads, fizzy drinks, so-called ‘sports drinks’, all being eaten by the kids in the household. This sugar tax will raise awareness about the harm sugar does, and should help change behaviour.
Like all personal trainers, I’ve dedicated my professional life to helping people get fitter and healthier, and it’s fantastic to see the government finally acknowledge the harm sugar does, and finally take serious action to tackle this problem. Over the coming years we should see a reduction in tooth decay, diabetes, and obesity in our nation’s kids.
Dominic Londesborough is a personal trainer in London and author of the Fitness4London blog.