Jamie's Sugar Rush: what is the price to pay?

By now probably everyone has heard of Jamie Oliver's Sugar Rush and his idea to introduce a tax on sugary drinks.  I don't know how anyone else felt when they watched it but i was scared.  I mean really scared.  And if you haven't watched it by now you most definitely should.

So the programme starts off in a hospital where a little boy is getting his teeth yanked out; the reason for this?  Sugar had decayed his teeth beyond repair.  They were literally rotten and hollow.  And the worst part is that he wasn't the only kid scheduled for that procedure that day, there were four more.  26'000 primary school kids go through this procedure in the UK, that is a massive number costing the NHS a whopping £30 million per year.  I think it's shocking that kids need their teeth ripped out for a totally avoidable reason, because the surgeon even said that sugar is 100% responsible for this.  Even more worryingly he said that even if you brush your teeth twice a day if you're consuming sugar throughout your day it won't make a difference.  Really you're not helping yourself, the only way to help is to cut down on your sugary intake. 

Now I really did not think we had such a massive problem here, and this is just highlighting the effect it has on kids... what about the adults who go through this?  Or even the kids who destroy their teeth at such a young age, how will it effect them in their adult life?  This is scary, I take good care of my teeth but to see that in reality I'm not actually preventing the effects that sugar has is horrifying.   

Jamie Oliver also discusses another major health problem caused by a high sugared diet; Diabetes type 2.  In the UK alone there are 3.5 million people with the disease which costs the NHS £9 billion per year.  That's 10% of the NHS budget.  Now I think we all agree that diabetes is a problem especially type 2 which can be effected by our diets and to an extent could be avoidable.  I mean my flatmate has type 1 diabetes and she literally could not have done anything to prevent this and that's completely different.  If health experts are saying we can avoid type 2 through changing our diet why are we not doing more to prevent it?!  What is the point of all these vaccinations and smear tests and what ever else we do to try and keep ourselves healthy and prevent illness when every single day we consume so much sugar that we are damaging ourselves anyway?  The next bit is shocking though.  Diabetes can lead to nerve damage resulting in amputations; in the UK there are 7'000 amputations (130 per week) and Jamie compared that to the number of amputations from the 13 years of combat in Afghanistan, which resulted in 130.  130 in 13 years as opposed to 7'000 per year?  Something is most definitely wrong here.  

These are just two examples of health conditions that arise because of excessive consumption of sugar.  But I think the figures and the real people who suffer from these conditions really hit it home that we NEED to change.  Isn't it bad enough that we have so many illnesses like cancer and motor neurons disease that don't have a cure for and so far there is no prevention?  Whereas these health issues are avoidable, we just need to take action. 

Jamie suggests that Britain introduces a tax on their sugary drinks which many believe wouldn't work; but he gives an example of a country where it does.  Mexico.  The government were forced to take control of the situation in their country as obesity is rampant and it is thought to be one of the most overweight countries.  It's shocking that they don't have fresh water to drink and instead drink coke and other sugary sodas.  We are so lucky in the country that we live in where fresh clean water is free and so easily accessible.  Anyway it turns out that 8 million Mexicans have type 2 diabetes and that leads to 75'000 amputations.  This is the direction we are heading unless we do something about it, isn't that terrifying?  So in 2014 the Mexican government introduced a Soda Tax which reduced soda consumption by 10% and increased the consumption of water and milk.  Mexico is proof that this would work.

If Britain were to introduce a tax on their sugary drinks it is thought that it could create £1 billion in tax a year which could be put towards something useful adn needed, it could reduce obesity by 200'000 and save the NHS £50 million per year.  So what are we waiting for?  I completely support this idea and have signed the petition, which I hope many many more people will.  As change is needed and urgently.  

We all need to cut back on our sugar intake - according to the World Health Organisation we should only be taking around 7 teaspoons of sugar a day but most people consume roughly 40!  Sugar is everywhere and the programme demonstrates this.  And so I am hopefully going to try and keep a track of my sugar intake for the next week out of curiosity - knowing me I will forget or something but I plan on keeping a food diary and trying my hardest.  Apparently a teaspoon is 4 grams of sugar so by looking at packets I should be able to keep a record and that't not even counting the hidden sugars or natural sugars in fruit and veg.  So fingers crossed and I'm looking forward (I think) to seeing the results. 

Now is the time to act, even if it is as simple as signing a petition, watching your sugar intake or just cutting down on something like sugary drinks.  I am genuinely scared about where this is heading and I know I will think again before choosing a bottle of coke over a bottle of water.  Either way, this is serious and at the same time preventable.  I honestly hope that a difference has been made and that it's not too late to help ourselves.

Take the first step and join me in signing the petition or even just watch the programme: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/jamies-sugar-rush

Thank you,

Love, Lauren x