Do we need a sugar tax?

The British government has just voted to tax sugary soft drinks. The British government hopes that this will help to stop obesity, type 2 diabetes and dental decay.

The NZ government does not plan to do the same as Britain. However, the NZ Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health sent a letter to schools this week suggesting that they stop selling sugary drinks. Schools should encourage children to drink water not soft drinks, juice or smoothies. Of course, it’s not enough to encourage this at school. The message also has to go home that sugary drinks are not healthy. About one third of all school children are overweight or obese. We know too that too much sugar can lead to obesity and type 2 diabetes. Sugary drinks can also rot the teeth. More than 5000 children had some rotten teeth removed under anaesthetic in NZ last year.

In fact, most schools do not sell soft drinks. Schools also try to teach children about healthy eating and drinking. One problem is that soft drinks are cheap in the supermarket, cheaper than milk.

Vocabulary

• encourage (v) – suggest, support
• smoothies (n) – milk shake made with yoghurt, fruit, juice etc
• obese (adj), obesity (n) – very fat
• rot (v), rotten (adj) – bad
• anaesthetic (n) – put to sleep

Questions

1. Is a tax on sugary drinks a good way to stop people buying them?
2. Are sugary drinks harmful?
3. Are there some other ways to stop obesity and dental decay?






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