Sugar tax started today – its been a busy week

The UK’s sugar tax on drinks starts today and over the past few days I have been speaking on BBC radio, and BBC News TV about the tax.  Here are some of my observations.

The sugar tax on drinks which starts on Friday has been a great step forward in Government prompting industry to take action to help make it easier to drink more healthily, but caution is still needed as NOT ALL drinks now have less sugar.

Coca cola classic and pepsi have not changed, and will be taxed because they contain 12 teaspoons of sugar per can. The majority of other soft drinks brands have altered the recipe so they contain less sugar and are below the tax thresholds. But many of these ‘just below’ brands still contain up to 4  teaspoons of sugar – you would think twice if that was spoons of sugar in your tea.

Various forms of sugar tax or soft drinks tax have been introduced in more than 26 countries and the evidence shows that consumption of sugary drinks declines. In our University, we trialed a sugar levy and found a 33% reduction in sales of sugary drinks but no overall change in sales as students switched to lower sugar versions and water. Many people don’t like the idea of the sugar being replaced with artificial sweeteners. And since the sugar tax was first announced in 2016 we have become more aware of plastic, and projects such as Refill promoting access to free tap water are catching on.

The reformulation triggered by the sugar tax has been welcome, but making water the norm, and soft drinks an occasional beverage is still sensible, particularly for children. It’s worth keeping in mind that the American Heart Association advises that children should have no more than one (250ml) can of sugary drink per week, yet UK data shows that people who drink soft drinks typically have one can a day. 

MSc Health Promotion student earns Food Hero award

Congratulations to Gill Barker for being awarded this years Food Hero by the Brighton & Hove Food Partnership. Gill was volunteering with the food partnership for her HE713 community placement module,

Gill (pictured centre, in picture) volunteered with several projects including healthy weight, community cookery sessions and the dementia gardening and cookery project.  Having never worked with dementia before, the dementia projects were some of the most rewarding and added a new dimension to thinking about ’empowerment’ aspects of health promotion.

see Brighton & Hove Food Partnership

meal deals could undo the benefits of the sugar tax

From April, the UK government’s sugar tax will make 500ml bottles of high-sugar drinks cost an extra 14p, and two litre bottles an extra 58p. The higher price is intended to steer people towards choosing lower-sugar drinks. But promotions, such as “meal deals”, could make the sugar tax meaningless by negating the price difference….

interested?  – please see my short piece in The Conversation – and forward to your networks: https://theconversation.com/meal-deals-could-undo-the-benefits-of-the-sugar-tax-91136

sugar debate -friday december 1s

Sugar debate: sweet poison: is the demonization of sugar justified?

Participation open to all.

Speakers include Tatiana Christides, President, Food & Health Forum, Royal Society of Medicine

Alison Thomson – West Sussex Award winning sugar reduction programme

Checkland building room A500, from 3.15 pm until 5pm.

This seminar is part of the MDM83 Nutrition in Public Health module.

Brighton to be one of the sites to commence trial PREP

NHS England has announced the start of an implementation trial to provide HIV prevention drugs to people at high risk of HIV infection.  From September, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) will be provided by the NHS through the initial three year trial to an estimated 10,000 people, Sexual health clinics in London, Brighton, Manchester, Liverpool and Sheffield are expected to be amongst the first to start enrolling people in the impact trial.

Additional link: BBC News report

with thanks to Frankie Marcelline, Public Health Specialist Librarian
The Library, Audrey Emerton Building, Royal Sussex County Hospital for the news

Student research – news

Three of our students are actively doing fieldwork for their dissertations over the summer. The breadth of topics is exciting and there is a clear link with listening to the perspectives of young people, from views of service users in drug prevention interventions, sexual health and the further education college environment.

Two part time students graduate this summer after completing dissertations on mental health, and stroke prevention.