Telegraph Column by Steve Brailey: Why ‘sugar tax’ will boost health

Sugary drinks. Picture by PA.
Sugary drinks. Picture by PA.
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Here in Sheffield, we’re on a mission to become the most active city in the UK by 2020.

As Sheffield’s health and wellbeing charity, we’re here to help and encourage fellow Sheffielders to feel good by being active.

We offer the widest range of activities for all ages and abilities and are proud to offer Sheffield’s favourite gyms in Fitness Unlimited and encourage more than 7,000 children to get active every week through our swimming, gymnastics and football lessons.

Our number one aim is to improve the health and wellbeing of Sheffield. We’ve introduced really successful initiatives to help adults overcome significant health issues with our exercise referral scheme and Steel City Fit Club programme.

And that’s why we’re taking an exciting new step to help improve the health of the city, particularly for our children, and get Sheffield leading the nation.

From July 25, we’ll be adding a small charge of 20p to all drinks with added sugar sold at cafés and vending machines across our SIV leisure venues. Some of these drinks are incredibly high in sugar with no nutritional benefits. A typical can contains enough sugar – about nine teaspoons – to take someone over their recommended sugar intake in one hit.

Consuming large quantities of sugar can lead to weight gain and obesity, which increases the risk of health conditions including type 2 diabetes and heart disease and costs the NHS billions of pounds each year.

By highlighting which drinks contain high levels of added sugar, we hope to shift customer demand from fizzy to healthy alternatives. And, every single penny raised will be reinvested in projects to educate and further improve the health and wellbeing of Sheffield people.

We’re pledging to invest a minimum of £25,000 in new health sessions for young people in Sheffield,

We’ll be working closely with the city’s director of public health to develop obesity and diabetes prevention programmes which have a long-term, positive impact.

Similar initiatives have worked in other countries like Mexico, Hungary, Finland and France, and, in some cases, it’s even reduced consumption of fizzy drinks by up to one quarter.

SIV has always been an industry leader and a forward-thinking leisure trust and we are proud to be the first leisure operator in the UK to make this bold move.

We hope the people of Sheffield take the opportunity to feel good by supporting us to make the switch from sweet to healthy.