The Sugar Tax & Type 1 Diabetes

So yesterday it was announced by George Osborne that the government were introducing a new Sugar Tax, a subject that has been hotly debated by the Type 1 Diabetes community.

Many people feel that children with Type 1 Diabetes who require fast acting sugar during a hypo are being penalized.

The idea behind the Sugar Tax is to reduce childhood obesity, which is a huge issue in the UK right now. Obesity is linked to a higher risk of adults developing Type 2 Diabetes.

It’s taken some time for me to decide where I stand on this issue, but I think I’ve now decided.

Firstly, I’m sure there are many obese children that never drink sugary drinks. Remember the phrase “everything in moderation”? The fact is, too¬†much of pretty much any food that contains calories can make you fat. What about taxing chocolate bars, sweets, cakes, fast food, restaurants…the list goes on and on. I’m pretty sure a certain Jamie Oliver wouldn’t be quite so enthusiastic for the government to start taxing restaurant owners that sell sugar laden puddings.

I quite agree that something needs to happen to make this generation of children healthier and reduce the number of cases of Type 2 Diabetes and Heart Disease. If reports are to be believed one of the biggest causes of childhood obesity is too much sugar, especially from sugary drinks. So maybe it does make sense to start with the biggest culprit first, but a sugar tax? Is that really the best way to ensure kids drink less?

Personally I don’t think so. I don’t think we’ll see a drop in people drinking them and even if we do, I can’t see that these people will change the rest of their diet, which they probably need to do in order to lose weight. I believe other alternatives should be explored first, get to the root of the issue, more education on nutrition is required to change people’s behavior.

Each morning after dropping my son off at secondary school, I drive past the village shop, each day there are tons of teenagers emerging drinking cans of drink at 8.30 in the morning. Are they drinking Fanta, Coke etc? No. They are drinking designer energy drinks. Not traditional Lucozade, but funky looking cans from the likes of Monster etc. These are surely the worst of all drinks that our children could choose, not only do they contain bucket loads of sugar and but they also contain large amounts of Caffeine too. I’m pretty sure the kids are drawn to the trendy packaging, so why not do what we did with Cigarettes and take away the glamour, insist on plain packaging.

Energy drinks are the new smoking in my opinion. Can you remember being 14? Why you started smoking in the first place? It was to look cool and fit in with your mates. So we have Peer Pressure to deal with in this situation to, how do we do that? We introduce a minimum age for these drinks. Let’s face it, is it really appropriate for a 5 year old to drink a can of Monster or any other type of caffeine drink? If we put an age restriction on we can break the pattern and maybe these drinks won’t be an issue for the next generation.

So in my opinion the Sugar Tax will not work, it’s a gimmick introduced by Jamie Oliver that has got him some publicity and it’s a catchy hash tag at best.

As for people or children with Type 1 Diabetes how do I think it affects us? I don’t think it will make any difference at all. The tax is not going to increase the cost of these drinks by too much, probably no more than the general price increases we see on other food all the time. Should I decide not to treat Hypos with Lucozade other fast acting sugar is available without a tax. Though I have just read that Lucozade Sport will be exempt from the Sugar Tax which is good news.

What concerns me most about the Sugar Tax is all the talk and discussion it’s generated within the Media and even Health Professionals, spouting on about the connection between Diabetes, Sugar and Obesity. In most cases they are failing to differentiate between Type 1 & Type 2. This is damaging awareness of a condition we care passionately about. Rarely will you see any of these people stating the differences between the 2 types or even simply preceding the word “Diabetes” with the words “Type 2”, let alone differentiating between the 2. To me this is a bigger battle to fight than the Sugar Tax, come on people it’s time to start stating the Type. This is the real damage that the Sugar Tax will do to the Type 1 Community.

Feel free as part of the Type 1 Community to leave your opinions on the Sugar Tax in our comments section below. Before you do though, don’t forget to subscribe to our FREE newsletter by popping your email address in to the box below to keep updated on Type 1 News.




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