Call for Tax on SSD’s

7 Oct 2015

Wednesday 7 October 2015: Based on data from a soon to be released Cork school-based study, researchers at the Health Research Board Centre for Health and Diet Research have today announced their support for the Pre-Budget Submission from the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, and have called for a 20% tax on sugar-sweetened drinks.

The Cork Children’s Lifestyle Study (CCLaS) which was funded by the National Children’s Research Centre in Crumlin, collected detailed health, lifestyle, physical activity and dietary data from over 1,000 school children aged 8-10 years in Cork City and County, and found that the 82% of children were consumers of sugar-sweetened drinks (SSDs) The study also found that consumers of SSDs were significantly more likely to be overweight or obese compared to non-consumers, and that an increase in consumption of one additional can of soft-drink per day (330ml) is associated with an average increase in body weight of 1 kg (2.2lbs.) The magnitude of this association between SSD consumption and BMI is large relative to the best case effects  of intervention studies targeting overweight and obesity at the family or school level.

Dr Janas Harrington, Lecturer in the Department of Epidemiology & Public Health University College Cork & co principle investigator on the CCLaS commented that “the findings from this report reflect evidence from the international scientific literature on the effects of SSD consumption on patterns of overweight and obesity in children. Our research has shown that obese children consume on average 30% more of these drinks than that consumed by normal weight children.  We are allowing our children to develop lifetime addictions to SSDs, the consequences of which will have a significant health impact on their generation if left un-checked.”

Professor Ivan PerryProfessor, Head of The Department of Epidemiology & Public Health University College Cork and Principal Investigator HRB Centre for Health & Diet Research, states that “the current epidemic of overweight and obesity represents a public health crisis with the potential to reverse recent favourable trends in life expectancy in Ireland and undermine the financial viability of the Irish health system.  Given the high level of consumption of sugar sweetened drinks documented in this Irish study and the lack of nutritional value of these products, there is now a strong and compelling case for the introduction of a tax on SSDs. While no single measure will reverse current trends in overweight and obesity in children and adults, the proposed 20% tax on SSD’s  will have a measurable effect on the scale of the epidemic. It will provide a powerful symbol of Government leadership on this vital public health issue. It will also support the general public and especially parents in their efforts to make healthier food choices.”  

The HRB Centre for Health & Diet Research (CHDR) promotes the nutrition related health and wellbeing of the population by producing and effectively disseminating high-quality evidence to guide policy and practice in public health nutrition. The work of the Centre is coordinated by the Principal Investigator, Professor Ivan Perry, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College Cork. The Centre involves co-Principal Investigators from University College Cork, University College Dublin and the Institute of Public Health in Ireland.The CHDR now provides a national focal point for public health nutrition research in the Republic of Ireland.

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