Posts Tagged ‘sports’

The idea that the sugar tax will benefit primary school sport is laughable

05/04/2016, 09:42:35 PM

by Lucy Ashton

The cherry on the Chancellor’s Budget cake was the celebrity-hyped sugar tax.

Jamie Oliver took credit for persuading the Government to impose a tax on sugary drinks, which is estimated to cost the equivalent of 18p to 25p per litre.

The Government says the £530m the tax will raise will be spent on sport in primary schools, although drink companies have until 2018 to change their recipes and reduce the amount of sugar before the new tax comes in.

But this is a bittersweet tax which will hardly help nation’s obesity problem – a crisis which health officials say poses a greater threat than terrorism.

The Youth Sport Trust says one in three children who leave primary school are obese or overweight  – putting them at an increased risk of cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart disease along with developing mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.

But the new tax will barely tackle this issue. For a start, everyone slurping these high calorie drinks knows they are full of the white stuff. The real tax should be on the manufacturers who sweeten everything from cereals and yoghurts to tomato soup and bread – savoury food with hidden sugar.

The idea that the tax will benefit primary school sport is laughable. Around 10,000 playing fields were sold off under the 1979-1997 Conservative governments. There were a total of 31 plans to sell off school playing fields approved by the coalition government.

Sport England is so concerned, it is spending £33 million of National Lottery funding to protect and improve community sports fields.

And the playing fields are only needed if schools actually have PE lessons. Growing financial constraints and increasing demands from Ofsted to focus on the core subjects mean PE is often sidelined.

Darren Padgett is director of Team Activ, an award winning not-for-profit organisation which provides sports competitions, PE teacher training and after school sports clubs with all of Barnsley’s secondary schools and two thirds of primary schools.

Darren says the sugar tax is a start but far more needs to be done to improve sport in schools.

“At Team Activ, we strongly believe in the power of sport to improve academic and behavioural standards but the last few years have been particularly difficult for those responsible for delivering physical education in schools.

“The sugar tax is a step in the right direction, but the funds raised for sport in schools need to be ring-fenced to ensure they are allocated correctly.

“We’ve seen very positive results: schools involved in our programmes report more motivated pupils, higher self-esteem and better behaviour within class.”

It’s clear we need a fully rounded strategy, involving diet, exercise and education to tackle the obesity timebomb, not just a sprinkling of sweeteners.

Lucy Ashton is a journalist and former Political Editor

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon