Irish doctors have called on the Government to implement a 20% rise in the prize of sugary drinks to help tackle the Irish obesity epidemic.
Doctors have encouraged the Government to take action on the matter, citing research that shows one in four Irish schoolchildren are deemed overweight or obese. They further noted that there is an increasing body of evidence that shows sugar-sweetened drinks, including sports drinks, are closely linked to weight gain amongst children. Doctors lambasted the fact that popular sports personalities are often used to promote popular sports drinks which encourages their young fans to purchase them.
The anticipated cost to the state of the current obesity epidemic is in the region of €1 billion between healthcare costs and lack of productivity due to illness or incapacitation. Supported by the Irish Heart Foundation, doctors say that the Government should seriously consider a tax hike on Budget Day (October 15th) and that public good must be placed before corporate financial gains.
According to a study commissioned by the Department of Health in 2012, just a 10% increase in the price of sugary drinks would make parents think twice about buying them, reducing the number of obese adults in Ireland by 10,000. The tax hike would have the added bonus of generating vital revenue which could go towards obesity prevention programmes in the future. According to Dr. Catherine Hayes, this ‘sugar tax’ is an important step towards dealing with the obesity epidemic in Ireland. However, it remains to be seen whether the Government will implement such a tax when they announce Budget 2014 next week.