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LSBU set to host sugar tax debate

Are we addicted to sugar? That’s the issue that London South Bank University (LSBU) is set to uncover at the sugar tax debate, to be held on 15 September from 6-9pm
31 August 2016

LSBU is hosting a series of four debates on addiction from September 2016, covering the issues of sugar, e-cigarettes, legal highs and a mystery topic yet to be decided.

The first in the series is the sugar tax debate. Entitled, "Are we addicted to sugar? Waistlines, wallets and sugar taxes”, the event will see industry experts put forward their views on whether or not sugar is addictive and whether a sugar tax will lead to better health for the nation.

Addiction is a highly controversial, yet severely misunderstood issue. The debate is set to shine a light on the different levels of addiction and people’s perceptions of them

Leading experts and panellists on the day will include:

For the motion that we are addicted to sugar

  • Malcolm Clark, Sustain
  • Dr Mick Armstrong, British Dental Association

Against the motion that we are addicted to sugar

  • Dominic Watkins, DWF
  • Emily Barley, People Against Sugar Tax

The debate promises to be an exciting start to the series. Previously it has been perceived that the only negative effect of sugar is tooth decay, but the debates will uncover the wider effects that sugar has on health, especially as it is now linked to the obesity epidemic, the rise in diabetes, and being an addictive substance.

The debate will also address how we can best tackle the chronic health problems associated with consuming too much sugar.

Peter Benson, Head of the Health and Wellbeing Institute at London South Bank University, said:

“The issues around sugar are highly contentious and have been steadily gaining momentum, especially in light of the connection between sugar, health issues, obesity and addiction.

“Universities are often at the front line of new research, so it’s great that LSBU is at the centre of this topical discussion and thought-provoking debate.

“The Sugar Tax Debate promises to be an exciting and engaging evening, discussing the pros and cons of a sugar tax in the UK.”

Dr Adam Cunliffe, Nutritionist, London South Bank University, said:

“Since the 1980s, obesity rates in the UK have climbed steadily, with over a third of adults now overweight or obese. While fat as the most calorific nutrient was once believed to be driving this epidemic, the focus has recently shifted to carbohydrates, sugar in particular.

“Given this changed perspective, it is logical to look to ways to modify our behaviour in respect of sugar intake.

“Evidence from other countries suggests that taxation may indeed impact buying habits, particularly amongst the young. Critics of the tax argue that the poor will be disproportionately affected by the price rise and that the range of products included is far too narrow to really make a difference to obesity rates overall.

“Nutritionally, sugar is now rightly seen as a ‘problem’ component of the diet, particularly at the levels the food industry frequently uses.”

Mick Armstrong, Chair for British Dental Association, and a practising dentist in West Yorkshire, said:

“Sugar comes cheap, but as a dentist I see the cost every day. It is fuelling an epidemic of tooth decay, a preventable disease that is now the number one reason for hospital admissions among young children.

“The proposed levy has kicked started a needed debate on how we, as a society, can start curbing the real damage sugar can do. It’s an important step, but I do not believe the grave health challenges we face will be solved by any magic bullet.  It requires long-term joined-up thinking, real leadership and practical policies, where governments, parents and businesses all play their part.”

Emily Barley, People Against Sugar Tax, said:

“This debate is absolutely crucial as the government pledges to push ahead with a soft drinks levy that is nonsensical and will not work against its stated aims.

“Nanny statists seem to live by a principle that we 'must do something' and disregard the evidence that that sugar taxes do not work outside of computer models.

“This sugar tax will not only not work, but it opens the door to yet more regulation of our lives by the government. And actually, people do not like being told what to do by politicians and bureaucrats.”

Find out more about the School of Applied Sciences and the Sugar Tax Debate.