Oxford Mail:

Hannah Fenton, manager of Good Food Oxford, a campaign for healthy and sustainable eating in the city

The facts are stark. We’re eating too much sugar and drinking too many sugary drinks, and it’s bad for our health.

The average sugar intake is 12-15 per cent of people’s energy intake instead of the recommended five.

Empty calories in sugar are the cause of diabetes, tooth decay and weight gain, with related health problems.

Eating too much sugar also puts pressure on the planet to produce more food than we actually need.

So we all need to take radical action to cut down on the sugary foods we eat. But why a sugar tax?

Poor diet is responsible for up to 70,000 deaths a year in the UK, and costs the NHS £6bn annually.

Here in Oxford we all eat too much sugar, and it’s hard to say how much each individual person eats, but some of the health statistics in some parts of the city are pretty bad and we need to make changes for the better.

The life expectancy in some parts of our city is six years lower than in others, and that’s incredibly unfair.

In a step to address Oxford’s health gap, health plans are being launched in Blackbird Leys and other parts of the city, which will encourage people to get more active, make healthy food choices and spend more time enjoying the outdoors.

Of course people should be allowed to choose what they eat, but research from countries that have already taken action suggests that taxation can make people think twice about the sugary option. If a low sugar drink that’s otherwise identical is cheaper, I think that’s great.

Children’s centres are a brilliant model of hearty, healthy eating, providing a nutritious cooked lunch without lots of sugary sweets and biscuits as an option.

They give parents and carers the support and encouragement to make good healthy food choices, and set patterns for the youngest children to follow for the rest of their lives.

So here’s what I propose: a sugar tax that is ring-fenced and used to fund two things – the NHS and children’s centres.

Good Food Oxford is all about asking “How do we feed everyone in Oxford, forever?”

We think good food is food that is healthy, affordable and sustainable.

A sugar tax would make the good food option comparatively cheaper, which would give people that nudge to think differently.

And when people do choose to eat sugar, they would know some of their money would be going to vital health-giving services in their hospitals and communities.


Oxford Mail:

Julia Atkinson, founder of Summertown-based cupcake company Happy Cakes

I set up Happy Cakes six years ago, selling homemade bespoke cupcakes.

I trade from various places in Oxford city centre and also events in Oxford such as Bitten Street, a monthly street food event held at Oxford Castle. I sell hundreds of cupcakes every week.

I don’t think there should be a sugar tax in Oxford. It’s all about having everything in moderation.

We should not eat too much sugar, but everyone deserves a little treat now and then.

I think, today, some people are gradually becoming healthier and more aware of sugar but some people are still ignoring it.

I think supermarkets are especially to blame as all their promotions at the end of the aisles are all for unhealthy foods. They should be doing more to promote healthier foods.

One cupcake can’t harm you – you just have to remember to not eat too many.

A lot of my customers buy my baby cakes, which are basically canapé sized cakes.

They come in a little egg box, in batches of six.

I think this shows that people here are being quite health conscious.

These cakes are just the right size for a treat for children, and it’s in a takeaway box so you don’t have to eat them all at once.

It’s good to have a small sweet treat rather than a big whopper.

I think Oxford is more educated on the effects of sugar than a lot of other places are.

It is such a multi-cultural place, with lots of students and people of all faiths and cultures and influences living here.

I think if we had a sugar tax, it would be like putting a sticking plaster on something.

It would be a quick fix but it’s not looking at the wider picture.

And if someone wants a fizzy drink, and it costs 15p more, it’s probably not going to stop them buying it.

It’s all about giving people options, educating children, and making sure supermarkets promote healthier foods.

I think there are more effective ways of combating obesity than having a sugar tax.