Medical newspaper online, 07.10.2019
Pediatricians begin the discussion
Pediatricians are in favor of imposing a sugar tax: this will prevent even more children and adolescents from becoming obese. Different reactions to demand arise from politics.
Author: Anno Fricke and Thomas Hommel
Sweet treats in focus: Pediatricians stir up debate over sugar tax
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BERLIN. The dispute over the meaning and stupidity of the sugar tax has been restarted. On Monday, the Professional Association of Pediatricians (BVKJ) reiterated its request to introduce an appropriate fee for sweet foods.
In this way, overweight and obesity could be prevented in young people, an association spokesman said. Hermann Josef Kahl is the "doctor's newspaper" on Monday.
First results by the end of March
Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner (CDU) has announced a review of the National Reduction and Innovation Strategy for the fall.
In it, the federal government and the food industry agreed to remove at least 20 percent of the sugar contained in breakfast cereals, 15 percent from lemonade and teas, and ten percent from baby yogurt by 2025. Initial results are expected by the end of March 2020.
It was the first time that the "food industry had been involved in reducing these nutrients," the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) told Doctors on Monday.
This was a turning point given the challenge of 47 percent overweight women, 62 percent overweight men and 15 percent overweight children.
Pediatricians criticize the industry
"The industry is doing nothing," BVKJ spokesman Kahl said. A study conducted by the Robert Koch Institute of Child Health (KIGGS) from more than 15,000 children between the ages of three and 17 between 2014 and 2017 found that 15.4 percent were overweight and 5.9 percent were even obese.
They are especially considered children and adolescents from unsafe and educationally distant conditions. For children and adolescents, an alarm signal: "We also feel responsible for their health," Kahl said. Sugar tax must come.
Currently presented voluntary food labeling (Nutri result) is not enough. In a statement on the reduction strategy, the trade union has already addressed the long-term effects of the current policy strategy. Achieving the goals by 2025 was not ambitious enough. By then, unnecessarily many children and adolescents had become obese. "This must be prevented in any case," the statement read.
Studies have shown that reducing sugar by five percent can be successful within five years. Therefore, it must act faster, so BVKJ.
SPD: Health-conscious foods make it difficult for people
SPD politicians have joined pediatricians. "In my stance on the sugar tax on beverages, nothing has changed. I think – embedded in a larger package of sugar reduction measures – it is a very useful tool," said SPD parliamentary health spokeswoman Sabine Dittmar, "The Medical Newspaper ", Mandatory, understandable food labeling is also important. Advertising of food intended for children is forbidden.
Hamburg's Health Senator Cornelia Prüfer-Storcks (SPD) said that "unfortunately, it is now normal practice for finished products and beverages to contain high levels of sugar." Healthy eating makes it difficult for people to eat.
Products have often suggested that they are "healthy, but in fact they are sugar bombs and mask the sweeteners with a fine print." Higher taxation of tobacco and alcoholic beverages has shown that this can reduce consumption quickly and significantly. "That's why I'm in favor of imposing a sugar tax." In the long run, VAT rules should be revised so that healthy food is taxed lower.
Only better nutrition education brings success
FDP parliamentary group spokeswoman Katharina Willkomm called the pediatrician's request for a sugar tax understandable. "But if desire is the father's thought, man likes to ignore the facts."
The example of England is not good enough to prove the success of the imposition. Although fewer sugary drinks have been sold since then. The main reason for this is that lemonade producers have focused their advertising budget on light products. "However, sugar consumption in England is growing."
No one is getting better from the sugar tax. In the long run, only better nutrition education ensures success. "Already at school, children need to be better informed about what nutrition is healthy and which foods should be accessed only occasionally."
In the spring of 2018, the German Medical Association issued a number of resolutions aimed at strengthening health prevention. "Appropriate legislative measures on food taxation and labeling" are also needed to reduce the consumption of unhealthy foods, especially for children and adolescents.
Envoys cited WHO calculations that even a 20 percent increase in the price of sugary drinks could lead to a 20 percent reduction in consumption.
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