Are fizzy drinks and sweets too easy to access?

by Sonia

Kingsbury High School Canteen's range of fizzy drinks
Kingsbury High School Canteen’s range of fizzy drinks

In the UK, obesity is rising. Doctors, such as those from the Academy of Royal Medical Colleges, hope a tax on fizzy drinks could help decrease the problem. On Budget Day, it was agreed that there was going to be a rise in tax of all alcoholic drinks, except beer, at 2% above inflation, however we still do not know if there is a tax on fizzy drinks. We ask: is obesity rising because we are making it too easy for people, especially children, to access unhealthy, fattening drinks and foods?

Where ever we go we can find sweets and sugary drinks from the local newsagents to supermarkets and department stores. Unhealthy snacks are sold in schools and hospitals, meaning easy access to the public.

Many schools, such as Kingsbury High School, have banned energy drinks. Research from Weight Loss Resources shows that the effect of caffeine on a child can have damaging effects on behaviour and concentration. However, fizzy drinks are still sold in the school canteen.

Also with the prices being cheap, it is an easy alternative to lunch for children, as you could easily buy 5 packets of sweets or 2 bottles of fizzy drinks for the amount of money it would cost to buy a sandwich.

We asked local residents in the Wembley area what they thought of the sugary drink tax and the other ways in which the government were planning to reduce obesity. This is what one man had to say:
“I think that it is a stupid idea, people who feed their kids and themselves with junk food everyday are making it more costly for people that just want to enjoy a drink or treat once in a while.”

Another man had this to say:
“I believe the tax is a great idea; it will stop the children buying fizzy drinks with what is supposed to be their lunch money, they can finally get a decent meal.”

While a woman had this to say:
“This is ridiculous. What about all of the non-obese people who want to drink fizzy drinks? A tax affects everyone, cigarettes and alcohol are taxed, and that’s hardly solved the problem. A lot of kids and adults will still be hooked on the stuff they’d just waste more of their money on it anyway. Most things are fine in moderation if the rest of your diet is ok. People need to be more responsible for their own health.”

A statement from James Quincey, the President Europe Group, the Coca-Cola Company on the coca cola website quotes:
“Obesity is a serious problem and I am determined we will take more actions in Europe to help address it. The actions announced today build on our earlier efforts and are part of a long-term commitment.”

However, the statistics from the Department of Health based on the 2010 survey showed that 62.8 per cent of adults aged 16 and over and 30.3 per cent of children aged 2 to 15 in England were overweight or obese. The government hope that by putting a tax on sugary drinks it will discourage the public from buying it as often, and therefore reduce obesity.

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