The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) has drawn attention to the lack of “coherence” in current policies on obesity and sugar (Report, 23 January). In fact, government departments are contradicting one another: Defra has recently removed production quotas and minimum prices on sugar beet, leading to more and cheaper UK sugar; Public Health England is driving a programme to reduce sugar in nine categories of mass-market manufactured foods; the Treasury is imposing a tax on soft drinks.
Thus, one arm of government is trying to increase the production of sugar, while another seeks to reduce its consumption. One department is lowering the price of sugar, another raising it. The RCPCH proposes more votes for parents with children. That might work. But a simpler solution would be for different parts of the same administration to talk to one another – joined-up government.
Emeritus professor of nutrition policy, London Metropolitan University
• Those who claim that minimum unit pricing for alcohol (Report, 23 January) would automatically increase alcohol industry profits are wrong. It would just prevent alcohol being sold below a “floor price”. There is nothing to stop government acting on industry profiteering as well, eg by increasing alcohol duty or imposing windfall taxes.
Nice recommended minimum unit pricing in 2010 as one of a raft of measures to prevent drink problems. Raising revenue to improve treatment for people with alcohol problems would complement any investment in prevention. Preventing alcohol harm would benefit everyone except the alcohol industry. Minimum unit pricing is worth a try – if it works it would work for the many, not just the few.
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