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War on sugar : tax or not?
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승인 2016.04.11  11:25:48
트위터 페이스북 미투데이 요즘 네이버 구글 msn


 손석주 교수(융합교양대학)

 There is increasing worry about the effect of sugar on health. Recently, the Korean government announced a series of measures to help reduce the consumption of sugar. According to a government study, almost half of Koreans aged 3-29 are vulnerable to obesity and diabetes, among other diseases, as they are having too much sugar.


The measures require food makers to reveal their products' sugar levels, including banning schoolchildren from consuming food products with high-sugar levels like fizzy drinks. The government is also to distribute low-sugar recipes to restaurants and families across the country.


As part of efforts to make the campaign succeed, the Korean government can take a cue from Britain's move to introduce a sugar tax. According to Public Health England, 6 percent of total sugar consumption could be prevented if such a tax banned promotions on high-sugar products.


In fact, a sugar tax is already in effect in a country like Mexico where a 10-percent tax has reportedly caused a 6-percent reduction in sales of sugary drinks. So, a similar policy could work in Korea, Britain, and other countries. Maybe, the higher the tax the greater the effect.


However, food and drink makers are not likely to support the introduction of a sugar tax. Unlike the British Medical Association, the Food and Drink Federation opposes such a move, saying there is a lack of evidence for the effectiveness of the tax.


No one can deny the harmful impact of sugary food and drinks on children and adults. They rot their teeth and make them obese. Korea has been seeing an increasing number of obesity patients in recent years. A government study shows the number of obese Koreans accounted for 4.2 percent of the entire population in 2012, up from 2.5 percent in 2002. Koreans aged 3-29 are consuming too much sugar, with sugar accounting for more than 10 percent of their daily caloric intake which experts say should be less than 5 percent.


Few complains about tobacco or alcohol taxation largely aimed at reducing consumption. Then, isn't it time to discuss the introduction of a tax on sugar if the government really wants to reduce high-sugar food and drinks significantly?

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