Tackle obesity time bomb by slapping a tobacco tax on sugar, urges scientist

THE obesity crisis in Britain needs to be tackled by regulating sugar in the same way as tobacco, a leading heart specialist said yesterday.


Smoker and sugar pileGETTY

Scientist claims sugar is ‘the new tobacco’ and calls for it to be taxed the same

Dr Aseem Malhotra said the sugar-related health problems linked to being overweight, such as diabetes, are as serious as tobaccorelated diseases.

He called on the Government to impose taxes and other regulations on sugar that are currently put on tobacco.

Dr Malhotra argued his case in a paper, “Sugar is the new tobacco, so let’s treat it that way”, which was published yesterday on medical website Medscape.com, The paper immediately received widespread backing from other leading international scientists, including the chair of the UK’s National Obesity Forum, Professor David Haslam.

Dr Malhotra said: “The scientific evidence reveals the positive health benefits for the whole population of such a tax. The similarities between Big Tobacco and the sugar industry are disturbing.

“Similar to smoking, any further regulatory measures to reduce sugar consumption, such as banning of sugary drink advertising and dissociating sugary drinks with sporting events, will have a further impact on improving population health within a short time.

Overweight manGETTY

Britain’s obesity ‘time bomb’ has also been blamed for a sharp rise in Type 2 diabetes

“The case against sugar is overwhelming. Sugar is the new tobacco, so let’s start treating it that way.”

He blamed sugar in fruit juice, syrups and honey for a range of ailments, including heart disease and tooth decay.

“Tooth decay is the most common cause of chronic pain and hospital admissions in children,” he said.


There are increased calls for the Government to impose taxes and other regulations on sugar

Britain’s obesity “time bomb” has also been blamed for a sharp rise in Type 2 diabetes.

Sugar is the new tobacco, so let’s start treating it that way

Dr Aseem Malhotra

Latest UK figures show that 67 per cent of men and 57 per cent of women are now either overweight or obese. The problem is becoming acute in children.

In the UK, 19.1 per cent of children aged 10 to 11 are now obese and a further 14.2 per cent are overweight. Of children aged four to five, 9.1 per cent are obese and 12.8 per cent are overweight.

Last night, Professor Haslam, said: “I tell my patients that the things they think are probably bad for them, are probably bad for them.


Similarities have been drawn between the sugar industry and the tobacco industry

“How many smokers think that tobacco is adding years to their time span, or that whisky is an elixir of life?

“It’s the same with sugar. Who eats a jam doughnut in the belief that they’ll live longer?

“Education and support is required to change bad habits but a little gentle pressure from sugar taxes and other Government policies will help bring home the message that sugar and refined carbohydrates are the primary culprits in the current obesity epidemic, which leads to heart disease and Type 2 diabetes and more.”

Other health experts also welcomed the call for further regulation on sugar.

Simon Capewell, professor of clinical epidemiology at the University of Liverpool and vice president for Health Policy at the Faculty of Public Health, said: “Sugar is indeed the new tobacco.

“We know it is very harmful to health and we know we can use the same effective strategies that we used in tobacco control.”