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Sugar drinks tax? This isn’t enough to tackle our sugar addiction, says Carina.

Well Mr Osborne has announced a sugar drinks tax in his budget. Certainly a surprise, nobody was expecting that one. Some people are thrilled (did anyone see Jamie Oliver jumping for joy outside the Houses of Parliament?) and others (like myself) are questioning the effectiveness of yet another tax.

Many of you will know that we’ve been doing quite a bit of work on reducing sugar in across the whole Contini baking range this year.

For me, if a sugar drinks tax brings awareness to the damage sugar causes to our health then I’ll admit it isa good thing. If it helps curb diabetes or child obesity then I’ll be hanging out the flags! However, and I’m sorry to say, I’m still a sceptic. I want more information before I can really make my mind up about a sugar drinks tax and whether or not it’s the right way to go.

As I’ve said before, for me, fizzy drinks aren’t the only issue. There are lots of other ways that we consume sugar – both good and bad. I have eaten less sugar over the last few weeks – helped by giving it up for Lent – but the debate around sugar has made me more aware of what I’m eating.

My children are also more aware and are, I’m pleased to report, making some good changes to their own diet independent of my nagging. Based on all the conversations and dialogue around sugar, education and changes in habits are definitely at the heart of solving our addictions to sweet treats.

Multi-buys in supermarkets will find ways to target the most vulnerable and incentivise the continued consumption of sugary drinks, increasing the habit that millions of us have. Addiction is a word becoming more and more associated with sugar and although it is quite shocking, it’s definitely the right way to go.

It should be, however, a matter of differentiating between good and bad sugars and pushing the “all in moderation” and “less is more” messages – easier said than done I hear you say!

Why can’t we make significant changes to food and drink packaging which actually spells out in simple English (not scientific jargon and mumbo jumbo) the health warnings on sugar content? We do it for calories, why not be more clear about sugar? Surely it goes hand-in-hand? We need to help change people’s mindsets which will, in turn, help us make good food and drink choices.

If I had the power I’d force producers and manufacturers to make labelling easier for us to really understand how much of our recommended intake is actually in each drink. If you had a clear label that says: “This product contains 9.3 teaspoons of sugar. Your recommended daily allowance of sugar is six teaspoons a day for women and nine for men”, what would it make you think? Personally, I’d put theitem back on the shelf. Would you?

Ultimately I’m not preaching. I’m just thinking out loud. This is something I’m so passionate about. As a mother, wife, cook and business owner, I have a responsibility to make sure I do the right thing for the people I care about.

I love sweet things, cake, shortbread and chocolate, but if this debate has taught me anything, it’s that no one can escape the health issues connected to too much sugar. Whether it’s something as simple as a bit too much flab around your middle or some irritating acne, or something more sinister like diabetes, too much sugar affects us all.

Ok, you might have the odd can of coke and maybe a few too many Celebrations in front of the TV, but don’t make it a habit. We owe this to the next generation. I want my kids and grandkids to grow up healthy and in a society which teaches us to make good food choices.

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