HSE welcomes the Sugar Sweetened Drinks Tax
- 6 in 10 adults and 1 in 5 children are overweight or obese in Ireland
- Sugar Sweetened Drinks are associated with weight gain, type 2 diabetes and dental issues
- Visit makeastart.ie to make healthy changes for your family
The HSE welcomes the new tax on sugar sweetened drinks (SSDT), which will commenced today. Research tells us that these drinks can increase calorie intake, cause weight gain, contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes and tooth decay, and influence the development of obesity in children, adolescents and adults. This tax aims to reduce the amount of sugar sweetened drinks that Irish people consume every day and act as an incentive for the industry to reformulate their products.
Sarah O’Brien, National Lead for the HSE’s Healthy Eating Active Living Programme commented:
“The introduction of this tax is a definite step in the right direction in our efforts as a country to tackle obesity, which is one of the most serious and preventable health issues in Ireland today. With at least 6 out of 10 adults and at least 1 in 5 children now overweight or obese in Ireland, the associated health risks are placing a heavy burden on ourselves and on our health services. We need to use all the tools we have at our disposal to create an environment that supports us all to eat healthily, be more active and achieve and maintain a healthier weight”.
Prof Donal O’Shea, HSE Clinical Lead Obesity Management, notes the impact this tax will have:
“Similar taxes on sugar sweetened drinks introduced in other countries, such as Mexico, France and Hungary, have demonstrated an impact by reducing the consumption and sales of SSDs. Positively, even before Ireland’s sugar tax has been fully introduced, it seems to be having an effect with producers reformulating their products, providing consumers with options that have less added sugar, or offering products in smaller portion sizes”.
Sugar sweetened drinks contain much more than the recommended added sugar daily intake, which should contribute less than 10% (ideally 5%) to our daily energy intake. For example, a 330ml can of cola contains 139 calories and 35g of sugar. That’s more than 8 teaspoons! A litre bottle of cola or a similar sugar sweetened drink is equivalent to over 400 calories – that’s one-fifth (20%) of the daily recommended calorie intake for an inactive adult. To burn 400 calories requires at least 30 minutes of brisk walking in addition to being active enough throughout the day to achieve 10,000 steps. However, evidence suggests that only one in three of us achieve this every day.
Recently, safefood, the HSE and Healthy Ireland launched a new five-year public health awareness campaign – “START” – to set families on the path to a healthier future. For parents, the campaign recognises the realities of daily parenting, how difficult it can be to change habits or create new ones and how external factors can make that more challenging. The ‘START’ campaign messages have been created to help parents get started and build momentum by achieving one daily win – for example adding more vegetables to dinner time, swapping sugary drinks for water and milk. The campaign also recognises that parenting is tough, but that making healthy changes are necessary and worth it to help children on the way to a healthier life.
Visit www.makeastart.ie for advice on making healthy changes for your family.