World Diabetes Day: On the eve of a day to
highlight the scourge of diabetes, November 14, 2012, a unit of IBEC, the
principal Irish business lobby group, says a sugar tax would have no health
benefits and it warned "that imposing a discriminatory tax on certain food
and drink products would have no health benefits and would further hit
already hard-pressed Irish consumers." Meanwhile, men are more likely to be admitted to hospital as a result of poor
management of diabetes than women, even when there are no significant
differences in the number of men and women living with diabetes, according
to new OECD data.
Across 25 countries, 8.7% of men and 8.3% of
women are currently living with diabetes. The average number of hospital
admissions with diabetes was 188 per 100 000 among men, whereas women had a
hospital admission rate of 143 per 100 000 - - more than 20% lower.
The greater numbers of men being admitted to hospital for poor management of
diabetes ought to raise concerns that men are not managing their diabetes as
well or making the most of primary health care services when compared to
Across both sexes, countries such as Switzerland, Canada and Portugal have
high prevalence of diabetes across their population but low rates of
hospital admissions from poor management of diabetes. At the same time,
Korea, Mexico and Austria have similarly high prevalence of diabetes but
much higher rates of hospital admissions.
Progress in improving diabetes care across OECD countries has been mixed in
the last two years for which data is available. Canada, Portugal, Sweden,
Denmark, Ireland, Germany and Austria have reduced the number of hospital
diabetes-related hospital admissions. However, Iceland, Switzerland, United
Kingdom, Italy, Finland and Korea have all seen increases in hospital
admissions for diabetes. Admission rates in Norway and the United States
have remained about the same.
Diabetes is a health condition where good health policies and good health
care can make a big difference. Modest weight loss and dietary changes can
delay and prevent the onset of diabetes and better management of blood
glucose can reduce further health care complications.
However, the think-tank says that too many patients across OECD countries today do not receive
treatment until more serious complications have set in. As countries reflect
on how to improve health care for people living with diabetes, the OECD
encourages them to think about their men.
This data released today is drawn from the OECD and European Commission’s
forthcoming publication on Health
at a Glance: Europe 2012, which will be released on 16 November 2012.
For further data and information on the OECD’s work on health, visit: http://www.oecd.org/health/.
The IBEC food and drinks unit
FDII's director Paul Kelly said today: "Fiscal measures specifically aimed
at altering behaviour are complex to design and can be highly unpredictable.
Ireland already imposes high taxes on many foods. While most foods are exempt
from VAT, the standard rate of 23% applies to confectionary items like sweets,
chocolate, crisps, ice-cream and soft drinks. An additional tax on sugar or soft
drinks would leave Irish consumers out of pocket, paying one of the highest tax
rates in Europe. The impact would be highly regressive, with a disproportionate
impact on low-income families that spend a higher proportion of income on food.
“This flawed approach has been recognised by the Danish Government, which over
the weekend announced it was withdrawing a saturated fat tax after one year and
was also scrapping proposals for a sugar tax because of concerns about
inflation, cross-border trade and the risk to jobs. The Danish food minister
Mette Gjerskov said, 'Now we need to try to do something else to address public
"The Irish food and drink industry is fully committed to playing its role in
helping to tackle obesity and other relevant public health issues. However, the
obesity issue will not be resolved by taxation or other forms of discriminatory
legislation aimed at individual food categories. An evidence based holistic
approach is necessary, which should include measures such as reformulation,
consumer awareness, the promotion of physical activity, and workplace and school
“I’m not surprised they
had trouble with a fat tax,” said Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy
at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nonprofit advocacy group
based in Washington that has worked on food tax initiatives, according to
The New York Times.
“It’s much easier to tax
specific foods, say a tax on sugary sodas, than to tax at the nutrient level
like a fat tax or a sugar tax.”
The Danish law put a
surcharge on foods containing more than 2.3% fat.
So Kelly's claim that a sugar tax
would have no benefits is not a fact. It's a judgement that he is not likely
professionally competent to make.
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