Sugar Tax and Scandal in the U.K.


The word “scandal” was often heard in the hot debate that led up to the United Kingdom’s sugar tax. It was used by the National Obesity Forum and Public Health Collaboration to describe how the alleged experts (academics, medical journals and institutions) have misinformed the public about what really causes obesity:

A global survey carried out by investment bank Credit Suisse worryingly revealed a substantial level of misinformation that exists amongst doctors with 92% believing that fat consumption could lead to cardiovascular issues… Incorrectly 54% of doctors and 40% of nutritionists thought that eating cholesterol-rich foods raises blood cholesterol.

Since 1983, the government of the U.K. has been pushing these erroneous messages, resulting in increased consumption of “low fat junk food, refined carbohydrates and polyunsaturated vegetable oil,” and people have been getting fatter and fatter.

The next stage is summed up in an opinion piece by Matt Crossman:

When it comes to causes, a large proportion of the blame was initially directed at our increasingly sedentary lifestyles and high fat diets. However, over the last decade, overconsumption of sugar has emerged as a major area of concern in the obesity debate.

We have already mentioned other scandals, like the status of children’s dental health and the existence of loopholes that were never closed despite the lengthy development process the law went through.

The Guardian‘s Health Editor Sarah Boseley said this about the legislators who sit in Parliament:

MPs applauded the announcement of a tax on sugary drinks, but called on the government to monitor whether drinks companies pass on the tax in the form of higher prices and whether they also raise the prices of their unsweetened drinks, such as water, as well. They also call for sweetened milk drinks to be included — at the moment they are exempt.

The Obesity Health Alliance spotlighted loopholes in the marketing rules that “leave children exposed to unhealthy food and drinks during the programs they watch the most.” This one may not even be worth spending energy on, because with the growth of on-demand entertainment, it does not much matter any more what prime-time television does.

The major junk-food brands of England have been moving forward with sugar reduction for some time now. A corporation known as AG Barr, for instance, pursues an ambitious plan to bring 90% of its brands below the taxable sugar level. But there is a dark, disreputable angle: the replacement of sugar with who-knows-what?

Another scandal is how a group called Public Health England is mainly composed of representatives from the food and drink industries. Another is the national recommended guideline for sugar, which finds 22 teaspoons of it per day a perfectly acceptable amount.

These and other objections caused the National Obesity Forum and Public Health Collaboration to author its own set of guidelines, which will be discussed in an upcoming post. Spoiler alert: Point 5 states, “Optimum Sugar Consumption for Health is ZERO.”

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Eat Fat, Cut The Carbs and Avoid Snacking To Reverse Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes,”, 05/23/16
Source: “The deadly risk of sugar: It’s time investors reassessed food and drinks companies,”, 03/15/17
Source: “Supermarkets must stop discounting unhealthy foods to tackle child obesity, say Mps,”, 03/26/17
Photo credit: ElizaC3 via Visualhunt/CC BY

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About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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