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Tax Suggested to Lower Consumption of Soft Drinks, Prevent Tooth Decay
- Updated: September 17, 2014
Researchers from a new report published in the BMC Public Health Journal are asking that the price of soft drinks, as well as other sugary beverages and treats be doubled in an effort to prevent tooth decay. The recommendation is for a 100% sugar tax to be added to these products, which in turn would cut down on the amount of sugar consumed by both adults and children.
Written by researchers with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in conjunction with the University College of London, dentists agree with and have welcomed the findings of the study, claiming too often they end up dealing with the results of a high-sugar diet.
Professor Philip James, lead researchers of the study stated that by increasing the cost of sugar-rich drinks and foods via a sugars tax would prove highly beneficial. He adds that even a 20% tax would have a decent effect on consumer demand but the actual tax would depend on analysis performed by experts and that a 100% sugars tax may be needed to accomplish the goal.
Earlier this year, Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer for England made a statement that the introduction of a sugar tax would also help fight rising rates of obesity. Deanna Dowley, practice manager of Grosvenor Dental Practice adds that approximately 80% of the dental clinic’s 1,500 patients are 18 or younger and of those, signs of tooth decay were evident prior to age 10.
Dowley also said that because water in the North Staffordshire area does not contain fluoride, tooth decay is more prominent. However, she agrees that sipping on soft drinks and eating a lot of sweets has been proven to cause damage to tooth enamel so by having a sugar tax, the higher cost of sugary drinks and snacks might make people think twice before making a purchase.
A dental nurse and oral health educator at surgery, Jo Light, suggests to her patients not to have more than four intakes of sugar daily. To her, the biggest problem with tooth decay is the frequency in which adults and children consumer sugar opposed to quantity. She goes on to suggest that having one soda in a given setting is better than sipping on sugary drinks throughout the day.
While Dentist Zoe Wray, practice owner of Diana Dental agrees with Light, she states that soft drinks are a huge part of the tooth decay problem. By having a sugar tax tacked onto sugary beverages, people might be encouraged to make healthier choices, especially if soft drink prices go up and bottled water prices go down.
Even with tremendous support by dental professionals, the idea of a 100% sugar tax has been criticized by newsagents. According to George Khan who operates Werrington News, instead of creating a tax on soft drinks and sweets, it would be far better to education the public about the types of drinks and foods deemed healthy.
Manager of High Street News, Mohammed Arif, agrees, saying it appears as if the government simply wants to tax everything and as such, putting a tax of sugary drinks and foods is not a good idea because it will ultimately cause financial strain on families, not to mention the damage it would cause newsagents and small businesses.