As part of the popular Change4Life campaign, the Sugar Smart app is a handy and user-friendly app, which presents a guideline in ‘cubes’ of sugar, showing how much you should be consuming per day, according to your age. The clever use of a visually quantifiable object, in the form of a sugar cube, is an effective way to show people of all ages exactly how much sugar they should be consuming. The app uses a barcode scanner to identify the item and instantly provides the value of sugar that it contains, in both number of cubes and grams.
But what's all this fuss about sugar?
Statistics from Public Health England have revealed that young children are consuming up to three times more sugar than the guidelines suggest. The leading problem in the ‘great sugar debate’ is the lack of awareness - people simply don’t know how much sugar is present in everyday food and drink. The development of this app is to provide a simple visual representation of the sugar content of a product, so that people can make an informed choice of whether to consume the product or to swap it for another similar product that has a lower sugar content.
The introduction of this new app comes amidst a long-running debate on imposing a sugar tax in the UK. Public Health England has previously backed the proposed plans of a sugar tax as part of a strategy to combat long-term health problems such as diabetes and obesity. The proposed sugar tax would be at a rate of 10-20%, but a decision is yet to be announced. Interestingly, the introduction of a 10% sugar tax in Mexico in 2014 produced a 6% reduction in sales of sugary drinks (BBC, 2015), after their obesity statistics revealed they were becoming one of the fattest countries in the world.
So, following the successful sugar reductions in other countries the question remains… what is stopping the UK from implementing the sugar tax?
One of the main reasons is the opposition from the food and drink industry, who have promised to fight the implementation of the tax. This lack of cooperation by the food industry would make it increasingly difficult to implement the necessary changes - especially under Conservative policy and with so many politicians with interests in food businesses. The Sugar Smart app is good - and it helps us keep informed and educated but it is just one product that is needed if we are serious about combating obesity. With increased pressure on NHS services from prolonged overconsumption of sugary food and drink, the question is this: Does Britain welcome more innovative creations such as the Sugar Smart app or is it time for a more drastic change or 'control' in the form of an imposed tax on sugar?
Tell us what you think.
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