One in four people believe the parents of morbidly obese children should face criminal prosecution for child abuse. An Irish Examiner / ICMSA opinion poll also shows 44% are in favour of a sugar tax, versus 39% who are opposed.
Men are more in favour of such a proposal, at 46%, compared with 34% of women who think it is a good idea.
Consultant endocrinologist and physician Donal O’Shea, based in St Vincent’s University Hospital and St Columcilles Hospital, Dublin, and an authority on obesity in Ireland, said the poll results on a sugar tax were “very encouraging”.
Older people are also more in favour of a sugar tax, according to the poll of farmers — 46% of those aged 65 and over think the Government should introduce a sugar tax.
Younger respondents take a harder line regarding prosecuting the parents of morbidly obese children.
While 25% of all respondents agree, this jumps to 34% of those aged 34 and under. Men were more in favour of such a sanction.
Overall, 54% of respondents disagree with prosecuting the parents of morbidly obese children, including 31% who strongly disagree.
One Government minister said she would like a form of sugar tax to be included in Budget 2017 next month, only for it to later emerge that it would be 2018 before it is implemented.
Minister of state at the Department of Health, Marcella Corcoran Kennedy, said such a tax would provide extra revenue that could be spent on measures contained in the ‘healthy weight for Ireland’ policy launched yesterday by the department.
“Our aims are to have a normal weight becoming the norm. We are becoming the fattest nation in Europe and what we are aiming for is people to be carrying normal weight as the norm,” she said.
However, Dr O’Shea said any moves to delay the introduction of a sugar-sweetened drinks levy would be disappointing.
“Public opinion is now in favour and the obesity problem is now,” he said.
Dr O’Shea said any such tax could be broadened to include other foods if required in future, and said the international consensus was that when it came to tackling obesity “you are going to have to do everything”.
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