According to the National Centre of Health, more than one-third of Americans are obese, around 37% of the population. The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the U.S. was $147 billion in 2008; the medical costs for people who have obesity were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight.
The UK is the most obese country in western Europe, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. In fact, around 27.5% of the adult population is obese. It is estimated that the NHS in England spent £6.1 billion on overweight and obesity-related ill-health in 2014 to 2015.
A healthy BMI ranges between 20 and 25. A person is obese when their BMI is above 30. The BMI is calculated by dividing one’s body weight by the square root of their height. If this number is higher than 30, the person is obese. Obesity leads to a series of problems, including high blood pressure, high risk of stroke and premature mortality.
The recommended dose of sugar per day is 9 teaspoons for male and 6 teaspoons for female. Consistent overconsumption of sugar is one of the main causes which lead to obesity. In fact, if we eat more sugar than we need, this is converted into glycogen by the liver and stored as fat. Sugar is hidden in most of the processed food we eat and, surprisingly, in drinks.
For example, a 330 mL can of Coca-Cola contains 35 g of sugar, 7 teaspoons, which is close the recommended intake per day. A Starbucks milkshake has 24 g of sugar per 100 g product. A standard milkshake is far for than 100 g. This is pretty shocking.
The UK government decided to address this problem by imposing a sugar tax which came into force on April the 6th. So, the price of a bottle of fizzy drink may raise up to 25% more per litre depending on the amount of sugar in it.
Companies are responding differently to the new regulation. Some of them are changing the formulation of their products and adding less sugar, others are reducing the size of their product while maintaining same prices.
The sugar tax has been already adopted by other countries. It came into force in Portugal last February, it was approved in France back in 2013. In Mexico, another country with of the highest percentage of obese people, this tax was approved in 2014 and a positive change has been observed ever since.
Personally, I am quite happy with the sugar tax. It is a prelimirary step towards tackling obesity although I believe this isn’t enough. More should be done to teach people about nutrition and what are the effects of unhealthy food on our body. For example, it is very common in Italy (where I come from) for doctors to go on TV and talk about food, advantages and disadvantages of it, how it metabolised by our body and what we should be eating to live a healthy life. I would to encourage the UK goverment to do more outreach and start using mass media to deliver a better understanding of nutrition.
To read more about the negative effects of sugar check my previous article.
What is your thought on sugar tax? Let me know and make a comment below.