In October 2017, Paschal Donohoe announced measures for a new sugar tax in his Budget speech. The Minister for Finance announced a tax of 30 cent per litre on drinks with over eight grams of sugar per 100 millilitres. 

The tax seemed to come at a good time as the country had become the fourth highest consumer of sugar in the world, according to Dr Eva's documentary, Sugar Crash.

Now it seems that 2018 will kick off the war on sugar as retail-chain Boots follow in the footsteps of Aldi by banning the sale of energy drinks to people under the age of 16 - effective immediately.

What's the problem?
Every few years, the dietary world chooses a new food group to glorify and another to shame as the culprit behind obesity. We have shunned carbohydrates, avoided fat, ran from dairy and hailed protein as the saviour to all our problems.

Sometimes it can be difficult to take these warnings seriously as food groups become fads in the media. Sugar though, seems to have a consistently bad rep with documentaries, TV shows and numerous health articles dedicated to it.

So what's the problem?

In short, excess sugar intake can lead to a myriad of health issues ranging from liver damage and heart attack to blindness and depression.

Girl customer looking for refreshing beverages
Ireland is the fourth highest consumer of sugar in the world

Sugar sweetened drinks
This year on Operation Transformation, Dietician Aoife Hearne revealed that while in the 1970's, one in 100 children were obese, now it’s one in 10. This jump in sugar take is often contributed to sugary drinks.

Based in Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Dr Steven Gortmaker is one of the leading figured in the study of youth obesity. He explained that the intake of sugary beverages can not only increase excess weight gain but also increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Professor Donal O'Shea, HSE Clinical Lead for Obesity, says that energy drinks, in particular, are growing in popularity despite the fact that they were non-existent just thirty years ago.

Filled with both caffeine and sugar, these drinks also have "unpronounceable chemicals" that cause harm, especially to growing children.

Dr Cliona Foley-Nolan from Safefood explained that if young people are filling up on these chemicals that the results will be seen in the classroom.

"Between the sugar and the caffeine, what you're doing is causing massive sugar and caffeine highs followed, of course, by a slump so then you either need more or you feel rotten."

kids soda
Aldi and Boots have banned the sale of energy drinks to people under 16 years of age

Age Limit
Legally speaking, these products have a note stating that they are 'not recommended for children' however they are often marketed to young people through social media and television and at the moment there is no enforcement to stop children from buying them.

For now, we can only keep our eye on our own sugar intake and ask that more retailers follow in the footsteps of Aldi and Boots.

In the meantime, if you want you and your family to cut down on sugar, you can follow our 7 step guide here.