Sugar tax will reduce dementia, according to Scots scientist


A NEW sugar tax could slash rates of dementia across the country according to a Scots scientist.

Professor Craig Ritchie will tell a conference later this week that a new national tax on sugar could reduce dementia – the crippling neurological condition which affects more than 90,000 Scots.

Ritchie, the director of the newly-launched Centre for Dementia Prevention at Edinburgh University, has already said that lifestyle changes can dramatically decrease chances of dementia.

But now he will tell an audience at Alzheimer Scotland’s Christmas Lecture in Edinburgh on Thursday that a tax on sugar could be one of the best ways to tackle the disease.

The tax could hit the producers of sugary drinks hard
The tax could hit the producers of sugary drinks hard


Professor Ritchie is expected to tell the audience that the “incredible consumption of sugar” among current Scots could lead to a rapid rise in dementia rates in 20 years.

“We will achieve much through drug treatments, but the vast majority of our reduction in incidence is going to be achieved through public health policy”, he said.

“If we wanted to reduce the incidence of dementia by a substantial amount then we should put a big tax on sugar.

“I don’t think there is any doubt that high glycemic index diets have an impact on the risk of diabetes, and a risk of you developing dementia in later life.

“We are going to wake up in our seventies with a huge problem.”

“If we really are going to make a difference to this illness, we need to get in early and we have to prevent it and we have to believe, before we fund any of that research or run any of those public appeals, that this is possible.

“Because a lot of people cynically say, ‘Oh it is part of ageing, there is nothing we can do about it, it is inevitable,’ and I think we have to change that perception.

“We have to look at the brain as being something that we can protect. We can build resilience, we can minimise risk.”

Dementia expert Professor June Andrews, of Stirling University, has previously suggested banning sugar in hospitals and schools.

She said: “There is no real simple answer to it but a sugar tax is an interesting and challenging idea.

“Research shows that diet makes a difference to dementia. All of the things we did for good heart health can also make an impact on dementia.”