It is widely acknowledged that most adults and children in the UK eat too much sugar and I am concerned about the rising rate of obesity in the UK, particularly among children.
The British Medical Association (BMA)'s recent Food for Thought report states that the majority of children, young people and adults in the UK are not meeting dietary guidance and that an unhealthy dietary pattern is associated with a number of chronic, complex conditions including obesity, cardiovascular diseases, cancer and type 2 diabetes.
This is not just an issue of education and health policy – it is about equality. Those from lower-income backgrounds are much more likely to have poor diets, compounding the negative effects of poverty and disadvantage. It is unjustifiable for government to stand by while food manufacturers, advertisers and retailers cause so much harm to the public’s health.
A tax on sugary drinks has a good chance of contributing to a reduction in sugar consumption among the population, and I would support such a measure in Parliament. This tax has been implemented in Mexico and has resulted in a quantifiable reduction in sugary drink consumption, particularly among lower-income people.
More widely, I would like to see a comprehensive approach to these issues that promotes healthy eating, encourages more people to play sport, and improves awareness of the risks associated with a high sugar diet. That is why I stood on a manifesto at the 2015 General Election that included plans to tackle the marketing of unhealthy foods to children and to do more to promote school sports and healthy eating.
Published 13 January 2016