Sugar Tax- how will it work?

A new sugar tax on the soft drinks will be introduced in the UK the chancellor announced yesterday.

A new sugar tax on the soft drinks will be introduced in the UK the chancellor announced yesterdayThe move has been hailed by campaigners as a significant step in the fight against child obesity.

So how will the sugar tax work?

The levy is squarely aimed at high sugar drinks- particularly fizzy drinks, which are popular among teenagers.

Pure fruit juices and milk based drinks will currently be excluded and the smallest producers will have an exemption from the scheme.

It will be imposed on companies according to the volume of the sugar sweetened drinks they produce or import.

There will be two bands – one for total sugar content above 5g per 100 millilitres and a second, higher band for the most sugary drinks with more than 8g per 100 millilitres. Analysis by the Office for Budgetary Responsibility suggests they will be levied at 18p and 24p per litre.

Examples of drinks which would currently fall under the higher rate of the sugar tax include full strength Coca-Cola and Pepsi, Lucozade Energy and Irn-Bru, the Treasury said. The lower rate would catch drinks such as Dr Pepper, Fanta, Sprite, Schweppes Indian tonic water and alcohol free shandy.

When it comes to the sugar tax, all the emphasis has been on drinks. There are a number of reasons for this.

Firstly, unlike a chocolate bar or slice of cake, they are not automatically seen as a treat. People who drink them tend to have them every day.

Secondly, some of the drinks are incredibly high in sugar. A typical can contains enough sugar – about nine teaspoons – to take someone over their recommended sugar intake in one hit.

For teenagers they are the number one source of sugar intake while overall, children get a third of their daily sugar intake from them.

They have also been dubbed “empty calories” as they have no nutritional benefit.

Mr Osborne said the money raised – an estimated £520 million a year, will be spent on increasing the funding for sport in primary schools.

There has been pressure on ministers to increase spending in this area to build on the legacy of the 2012 Olympic Games and in light of the low numbers of children who take part in regular activity.

But while the tax applies to the whole of the UK, Mr Osborne announcement on where the money is spent applies solely to England. The devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are free to decide how to spend their share.

The issue has been described as one of the most serious public health challenges for the 21st Century by the World Health Organization, while NHS England’s Simon Stevens has dubbed it “the new smoking”.

Health Direct applauds this new initiative and is sure that this will be just the start. Mr Osbourne has a habit of returning to existing taxes and constantly increasing them- like to tobacco and wine.

Poor diabetes care in England leading to preventable deaths

Poor diabetes care in England is leading to preventable deaths, record rates of complications and huge costs to the NHS.

Poor diabetes care in England leading to preventable deathsDiabetes UK says the disease is the fastest growing health threat of our times and current care models are not working to get on top of the problem.

The NHS spends a tenth of its annual budget on diabetes- but most of the money goes on managing complications not preventing them.

Health Direct notes that Diabetes is currently estimated to cost the UK £23.7 billion and with diabetes becoming more common, this figure is set to rise to £40 billion by 2035-36.

Diabetes is a chronic condition and, if poorly managed, can lead to devastating complications, including blindness, amputations, kidney failure, stroke and early death.

Best-practice guidelines say patients should get regular checks to ensure they are controlling their condition well enough to avoid future complications. But official audits of NHS care in England show many patients do not receive these checks.

Diabetes UK’s own annual snapshot says there has been very little overall improvement in diabetes provision in the past year and that some aspects of care have got worse – such as fewer people with type 1 diabetes receiving an annual check-up.

It says just 41% of people with type 1 diabetes – which must be treated with insulin – receive all the annual checks recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, and only 16% meet the three recommended treatment targets for blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure.

Young diabetes patients receive fewer vital checks than older patients. There is also wide variation depending on where you live in England.

People with diabetes living in some areas receive better care and treatment than people living in other areas, says the charity.

Barbara Young, Diabetes UK chief executive, said: “This is not a question of spending more money. In fact, better ongoing standards of care will save money and reduce pressure on NHS resources.”

“It’s about people getting the checks they need at their GP surgery and giving people the support and education they need to be able to manage their own condition. Doing this, together with improving diabetes care in hospital, would give people with diabetes a better chance of a long and healthy life, and save the NHS a significant amount of money. We want to work with local authorities to be able to help them put good practice into place.”

Obesity costing UK economy same as smoking

New research shows that the cost of obesity to the UK economy is now the same as smoking.

Obesity costing UK economy same as smokingThe worldwide cost of obesity is about the same as smoking or armed conflict and greater than both alcoholism and climate change new research has suggested.

The McKinsey Global Institute said obesity cost £1.3 trillion, or 2.8% of annual economic activity – it cost the UK £47 billion.

Some 2.1bn people – about 30% of the world’s population – were overweight or obese, the researchers added.

They said measures that relied less on individual responsibility should be used to tackle the problem.

The report said there was a “steep economic toll”, and the proportion could rise to almost half of the world’s population by 2030.

The financial costs of obesity are growing – for health care and more widely in the economy. By causing illness, obesity results in working days and output lost.

The researchers argued that a range of ambitious policies needed to be considered and a systemic rather than piecemeal response was essential.

The report said the right measures could save the UK’s NHS £760 million a year

A person is considered obese if they are very overweight with a high degree of body fat.

The most common way to assess if a person is obese is to check their body mass index (BMI), which divides your weight in kilograms by your height in metres squared. If your BMI is above 25 you are overweight. A BMI of 30-40 is considered obese, while above 40 is very obese. A BMI of less than 18.5 is underweight.

“These initiatives would need to draw on interventions that rely less on individual responsibility and more on changes to the environment,” the report said.

If the right measures were taken there could be long-term savings of £760m a year for the UK’s National Health Service, it added.

The initiatives assessed in the report include portion control for some packaged food and the reformulation of fast and processed food.

It said these were more effective than taxes on high-fat and high-sugar products or public health campaigns. Weight management programmes and workplace fitness schemes were also considered.

The report concluded that “a strategy of sufficient scale is needed as obesity is now reaching crisis proportions”.

The rising prevalence of obesity was driving the increase in heart and lung disease, diabetes and lifestyle-related cancers, it said

The report was produced by McKinsey Global Institute, the business and economics research arm of consultancy firm McKinsey & Company.

Dementia is biggest killer of women in UK

Dementia is the biggest cause of death for women in England and Wales official figures show.

Dementia is biggest killer of women in UKThe disease now kills more than three times as many women as breast cancer and thousands more than either heart attacks or stroke.

Analysts say the rising numbers may be because doctors are becoming more aware of the disease and recording it on death certificates more frequently.

Coronary heart disease remains the leading cause of death in men. For males, dementia is the third most common cause of death.

The gradual wasting away of the brain in dementia cuts lives short. The condition can be recorded as the sole cause of death, but is frequently found as an underlying condition. Many people with dementia ultimately die from pneumonia- due to physical inactivity.

The data, published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed more than half a million people died in England and Wales in 2013

Cancer is the leading killer when all subtypes of cancer are combined across both genders. Nearly one in three deaths last year was from some form of cancer.

The latest data confirms a dramatic shift in the causes of death in the past decade.

Between 2003 and 2013 the percentage of deaths from coronary heart disease, which includes heart attacks, fell to 16% of male deaths from 22%. In women the figure fell to 10% from 15%.

Improved care means people are more likely to survive heart attacks and more people take statins to prevent them in the first place.

Meanwhile, dementia rose to 6% of male deaths from 2% and to 12% of female deaths from 5%.

The latest data is the second consecutive year that dementia has been recorded as the leading cause of death for women.

The ONS report said: “Some of the rise over the last few decades may also be attributable to a better understanding of dementia. This means that doctors may be more likely to record dementia as the underlying cause of death.”

Type 1 diabetes- possible cure

The possibility of a cure for type 1 diabetes has recently taken a “tremendous step forward”, scientists have announced.

Type 1 diabetes- possible cureThe disease is caused by the immune system destroying the cells that control blood sugar levels.

A team at Harvard University used stem cells to produce hundreds of millions of the cells in the laboratory. Tests on mice showed the cells could treat the disease, which experts described as “potentially a major medical breakthrough”.

Beta cells in the pancreas pump out insulin to bring down blood sugar levels.

But the body’s own immune system can turn against the beta cells, destroying them and leaving people with a potentially fatal disease because they cannot regulate their blood sugar levels.

Type 1 is different to the far more common type 2 diabetes which is largely due to poor lifestyle.

The team at Harvard was led by Prof Doug Melton who began the search for a cure when his son was diagnosed 23 years ago. He then had a daughter who also developed type 1.

He is attempting to replace the approximately 150 million missing beta cells, using stem cell technology. He found the perfect cocktail of chemicals to transform embryonic stem cells into functioning beta cells.

Tests on mice with type 1 diabetes, published in the journal Cell, showed that the lab-made cells could produce insulin and control blood sugar levels for several months.

Dr Melton said: “It was gratifying to know that we could do something that we always thought was possible. We are now just one pre-clinical step away from the finish line.”

However, his children were not quite so impressed: “I think, like all kids, they always assumed that if I said I’d do this, I’d do it.”

If the beta cells were injected into a person they would still face an immune assault and ultimately would be destroyed. More research is needed before this could become a cure.

Sarah Johnson, from the charity JDRF which funded the study, told the BBC: “This isn’t a cure, it is a great move along the path. It is a tremendous step forward. Replacing the cells that produce insulin as well as turning off the immune response that causes type 1 diabetes is the long-term goal.”

Prof Chris Mason, a stem cell scientist at University College London, said: “A scientific breakthrough is to make functional cells that cure a diabetic mouse, but a major medical breakthrough is to be able to manufacture at large enough scale the functional cells to treat all diabetics.

“This research is therefore a scientific and potentially a major medical breakthrough. If this scalable technology is proven to work in both the clinic and in the manufacturing facility, the impact on the treatment of diabetes will be a medical game-changer on a par with antibiotics and bacterial infections.”

Obesity is new smoking says NHS boss

Obesity is the new smoking in terms of the impact on health and the cost to the NHS says the head of the NHS.

Obesity is new smoking says NHS bossA quarter of adults – up from 15% 20 years ago – and one in five schoolchildren is obese, figures show and the problem is estimated to already cost the NHS £9 billion a year. Someone with a body mass index (BMI) – a height-weight ratio – of more than 30 is considered to be obese, according to NHS Choices.

But NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said if obesity rates kept rising it could even threaten the sustainability of the health service.

Speaking to the Public Health England annual conference in Coventry on Wednesday, Mr Stevens said: “Obesity is the new smoking. It represents a slow motion car crash in terms of avoidable illness and rising health care costs.

“If, as a nation, we keep piling on the pounds around the waistline, we’ll be piling on the pounds in terms of future taxes needed just to keep the NHS afloat.”

He said, unchecked, the result of growing obesity rates would be a “huge rise” in disability and illness, such as diabetes.

His comments come ahead of the the publication of his five year plan for the NHS next month.

One of the proposals being discussed is whether more should be spent on lifestyle intervention programmes rather than bariatric surgery and offering incentives to employers to get them to encourage their staff to become healthier.

The NHS, in particular, should take a lead on this with staff becoming “health ambassadors” in their local communities, it has been suggested.

Another option under consideration is giving local councils extra powers to make local decisions about issues such as fast food, alcohol and tobacco.

Obesity and diabetes drugs cost needlessly harms NHS

NHS Scotland has spent nearly £230 million on drugs to treat diabetes and obesity within the last three years figures have shown.

Obesity and diabetes drugs cost needlessly harms NHSThe diabetes drugs bill was £75.7 million in 2013-14, £73.2 million last year and £74.2 milion in 2011-12.  Another £6.1 million went on obesity prescriptions in the three year period.

The figures were obtained by the Conservatives who said the conditions were harming both sufferers and the NHS.

The Scottish government said obesity and diabetes were on the rise across Europe and Scotland was no exception. It said the problem was being taken seriously and a range of measures had been implemented to try to tackle it.

The most recent statistics suggested nearly a quarter of a million people in Scotland now have diabetes, almost 5% of the population. The majority of sufferers, about 220,000, have type 2 diabetes.

A total of 3.34 million items were dispensed to treat diabetes in Scotland in 2013-14.

The official figures revealed that obese patients were prescribed more than 52,000 items in the same period – about 1,000 a week – at a cost of £1.9 million.

That is up from the cost of £1.5 million in 2012-13, but lower than the previous year, when £2.7 million was spent on obesity prescriptions.

Conservative health spokesman, Jackson Carlaw, who obtained the figures, said: “Of course, not every case of diabetes is related to weight, there are a range of reasons. But the fact prescriptions for both diabetes and obesity are rising at an alarming rate year-on-year cannot be ignored.”

“While we need the NHS and Scottish government to do all they can to force through messages on healthy living, it isn’t just down to them.  There has to be a level of personal responsibility.”

“Obesity generally isn’t something you catch on a bus, and people know that a healthy diet and active lifestyle are what’s required to keep the weight down.  If they don’t, diabetes is just one of the serious conditions lurking round the corner.”

A Scottish government spokesman said: “Our diabetes action plan, which will be updated this summer, sets out a clear commitment to the prevention and early detection of diabetes and to improve the treatment and care of people with diabetes.

“Although the number of people with Type 2 diabetes has increased in the last year, the number of prescriptions per person has remained at the same level.

“We are supporting child healthy weight interventions and are increasing opportunities for children to get involved in sport and physical activity, through active schools and our target of all primary children having two hours of PE lessons a week.”

Sugar- the new killer substance

A campaign group has been formed to reduce the amount of sugar added to food and soft drinks in an effort to tackle obesity and diabetes in the UK.
Sugar- the new killer substanceAction on Sugar has been set up by the team behind Consensus Action on Salt and Health (Cash), which has pushed for cuts to salt intake since the 1990s.

The new group aims to help people avoid “hidden sugars” and get manufacturers to reduce the ingredient over time.

Sugar is a widespread presence in our food and it’s often found in unexpected places, for example a can of cola contains nine teaspoons of sugar.  Some tins of tomato soup and bottles of flavoured water have four teaspoons of sugar crammed inside. And seemingly healthy fat free yoghurt often has a high sugar content.

The primary concern is obesity- being high in sugar also means being high in calories.

Nearly two thirds of people in the UK are overweight or obese – leading to other health problems such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Some argue that the problems with sugar are even deeper than the calorie content, and that high doses of the sweet stuff can increase the risk of diseases such as a fatty liver.

The cmapaigners believe that a 20% to 30% reduction in three to five years is within reach.

Like Cash, Action on Sugar will set targets for the food industry to add less sugar bit by bit so that consumers do not notice the difference in taste.

It says the reduction could reverse or halt the obesity epidemic and would have a significant impact in reducing chronic disease in a way that “is practical, will work and will cost very little”.

The group listed flavoured water, sports drinks, yoghurts, ketchup, ready meals and even bread as just a few everyday foods that contain large amounts of sugar.

Action on Sugar chairman Graham MacGregor, who is professor of cardiovascular medicine at the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine and set up Cash in 1996, said: “We must now tackle the obesity epidemic both in the UK and worldwide.

“This is a simple plan which gives a level playing field to the food industry, and must be adopted by the Department of Health to reduce the completely unnecessary and very large amounts of sugar the food and soft drink industry is currently adding to our foods.”

Well known food and drink products and their sugar content:

  •     Starbucks caramel frappuccino with whipped cream with skimmed milk (tall): 273kcal; 11 teaspoons of sugar
  •     Coca Cola Original (330ml): 139kcal; 9 teaspoons of sugar
  •     Muller Crunch Corner Strawberry Shortcakre Yogurt (135g): 212kcal; 6 teaspoons of sugar
  •     Yeo Valley Family Farm 0% Fat Vanilla Yogurt (150g): 120kcal; 5 teaspoons of sugar
  •     Kellogg’s Frosties with semi-skimmed milk (30g): 4 teaspoons of sugar
  •     Glaceau Vitamin Water, Defence (500ml): 4 teaspoons of sugar
  •     Heinz Classic Tomato Soup (300g): 171kcals; 4 teaspoons of sugar
  •     Ragu Tomato & Basil Pasta Sauce (200g): 80kcals; 3 teaspoons of sugar
  •     Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Crunchy Oat Granola Cinnamon Bars (40g): 186kcal; 2 teaspoons of sugar
  •     Heinz Tomato Ketchup (15ml): 18kcal; 1 teaspoon of sugar

Source: Action on Sugar

Dr Aseem Malhotra, a cardiologist and science director of Action on Sugar, said: “Added sugar has no nutritional value whatsoever and causes no feeling of satiety.  Aside from being a major cause of obesity, there is increasing evidence that added sugar increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and fatty liver.”

Cancers increase by 40% due to bad lifestyles

Cancers caused by smoking, drinking and excessive sunbathing have soared in the past decade- official statistics have revealed.Cancers increase by 40% due to bad lifestylesThe figures, released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveal large increases in the incidence of so called “lifestyle” related cancers.

The biggest rise has been in the rate of malignant skin cancer, which has increased by 56 per cent among men and 38 per cent among women since 2002.

The ONS said the increase in skin cancer rates was probably due to changes in clothing over the last century and growing levels of sunbathing.

Oral cancers, which have been linked to smoking and poor diet, have increased by 37 per cent while kidney cancer has increased by 25 per cent in men and 36 per cent in women.

Overall new cases of cancer in England rose by almost a fifth between 2002 and 2011- when 274,233 patients were diagnosed.

Nick Ormiston-Smith, statistical information manger at Cancer Research UK, said that the figures showed how poor lifestyle choices were creating health problems for people in later life.

He said: “Forty per cent of cancers can be attributed to lifestyle factors so swapping some bad habits for healthier ones can help reduce the risk of developing the disease.

“Smoking increases the risk of at least 14 forms of cancer including lung, bowel, pancreatic and mouth.

“Cutting down on alcohol, keeping to a healthy weight, avoiding sunburn and being more active can also help reduce the risk of many cancers.

“Leading a healthy life doesn’t guarantee you won’t get cancer but it can stack the odds in your favour.”

The figures show that the number of cancers to be diagnosed in England in 2011 were 359,020, with nearly 85,000 of those being non-melanoma skin cancers.

Around 6,000 people were diagnosed with oral cancers while more than 11,000 were found to be suffering from malignant melanoma.

As skin cancer can develop decades after damage caused by ultraviolet radiation, growing numbers of people are expected to be diagnosed with the disease.

The report said: “These increases are considered to be due to changes in exposure to solar UV rays as a result of altered patterns of behaviour in recent decades, such as choice of clothing and recreational sunbathing.”

The number of men diagnosed with lung cancer was 19,173 – a reduction of 11 per cent since 2002. However, among women, lung cancer increased by 15 per cent to 15,675.

The ONS said: “The majority of lung cancer cases occur as a result of tobacco smoking, with around one in five cases in the UK being attributable to diet and occupational exposures.

“While men remain more likely to smoke than women, the gap has narrowed.”

Breast cancer was the most prevalent diagnosis among women, with figures increasing by 5.5 per cent since 2002 to 41,523.

It is estimated that about 27 per cent of these are linked to lifestyle and environmental factors such as alcohol consumption, lack of physical activity and hormonal factors.

Prostate cancer was the most common cancer among men, with 35,567 patients being diagnosed in 2011.

Three million people now diagnosed with Diabetes in UK

Three million people in the UK have now been diagnosed with diabetes, says charity Diabetes UK, which warns this new high could create a huge burden on the NHS.Three million people now diagnosed with Diabetes in UKMost of these cases are Type 2 diabetes, caused by the UK’s ageing population and rapidly rising numbers of overweight and obese people.

Another 850,000 people are thought to have undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes. The total represents an increase of 132,000 over the previous year.

In 1996, the number of people diagnosed with both types of diabetes was 1.4 million; the latest figure is three million. Roughly 90% of these have Type 2 diabetes.

It is estimated that, by 2025, five million people will have diabetes.

Experts have previously warned that unless more is done to prevent Type 2 diabetes, and more help is given to those with the condition, the increase could have huge implications for public health.

Diabetes UK said that every year in England and Wales, 24,000 people with diabetes died earlier than expected, a situation that was expected to get even worse without urgent action.

The charity made the announcement of the new figures at the start of a public awareness campaign aiming to reach the estimated seven million people at high risk of diabetes.

Barbara Young, chief executive of Diabetes UK, said she was concerned by the numbers.

“There is no reason to think this will mark the end of what has been a rapid rise in the condition.”

“Instead, all the projections suggest that the three million figure will be a grim staging post on the road towards a public health emergency and this unfolding tragedy is already putting huge pressure on the NHS and will have potentially devastating consequences for those people who develop the condition.”

But she said this situation was avoidable.

“By identifying those at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, we can ensure they start getting support to make the kind of lifestyle changes that can help prevent it.

“And by making sure people who have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes are already getting the care and support they need, we can help them avoid the devastating complications diabetes can cause.”