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Hello readers, and welcome to this week’s newsletter! There’s been plenty that’s made waves this week across the dental world. There was the court case of that vicious attack on a young dentist for no other reason than the colour of his skin. A dental management firm with an annual turnover of $650m received a (relatively) paltry fine of $450,000 for forcing dentists to use high pressure, coercive sales tactics.
The GDC… well the GDC stuck to its own script this week as news came to light over its recent bungling of an FtP hearing that its own Professional Conduct Committee said its “sense of justice and propriety is offended.”
But we focus this week on a topic that continues to gather momentum, with a ringing celebrity endorsement the latest positive step…
You can imagine it now. The gleeful, victorious Tories take their seats around the cabinet table with the agenda of how to impose more cuts to tackle the deficit. One junior minister pipes up with an idea to raise more tax revenue.
“Nonsense!” scoffs George Osborne. “We’re not going to raise taxes. What kind of austerity government would we be then?”
“But… but…” the junior minister stutters. “This tax would act as a safeguard to protect the wellbeing of the whole nation and raise revenue that could be reinvested in the health service.”
“Poppycock” pipes David Cameron. “We already tax the booze and the cigarettes. I can’t enjoy a bottle of port without half the cost going in tax, for Christ’s sake.”
“But I don’t mean those,” replies the junior minister, gathering confidence. “More and more people are backing this tax. It’d make such a difference to the nation’s health. I’m talking about a tax on sugar…”
This fictitious encounter aside, it’s hard to figure how much longer the government will be able to ignore the growing calls for some forms of stronger measures to be taken on sugar, amid the wealth of evidence that shows how badly if affects the nation’s health.
From obesity to diabetes, to oral health, sugar continues to occupy such an acceptably large part of our diets that the negative health effects of sugar will continue to affect a large swathe of the UK population for generations to come unless some form of action is taken.
Already, though, we see calls for a concerted action on sugar to be taken across UK society. Action on Sugar and the British Dental Health Foundation, among others, have long campaigned for a sugar tax to be placed on excessively sugary drinks and treats and it seems sections of the business world are beginning to take notice and are following suit.
The decision from Jamie Oliver’s Restaurants to introduce an added charge on sugary drinks – a “child health levy” is what they’re calling it – sets an excellent example for others to follow. Child tooth decay, as well know, is rampant in the UK, as well as other sugar-related diseases so it is hoped that this move will set a new benchmark in the attempts to place more restrictive controls on sugar.
Professor Mike Rayner, Professor of Population Health at University of Oxford, called it a “hugely important and forward-thinking step” that could “be on the verge of making a big impact when it comes to reassessing our relationship with sugar.”
Tesco’s recent decision to reduce the sugar content in its own-brand soft drinks was similarly well received as another positive step. Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England, said: “We urge other drinks brands and supermarkets to follow in Tesco’s footsteps.”
It may be gathering momentum, but a sugar tax would have serious repercussions to food and drinks industry in the UK and it remains to be seen whether there is an appetite for the government to rock the boat too much here.
If they do ignore these calls, though, you can be sure they will become a lot louder and a lot more widespread in the next few years.
What do you think? Would you support a tax on sugar? Is there an appetite to get a measure like this brought through in this Parliament? Comment below or send us your thoughts here.