"I don't believe it's going to make any difference" - Dr Eva Orsmond on sugar tax

The UK yesterday announced a levy on soft drinks, and there have been repeated calls for a sugar tax here in Ireland

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File photo. Image: Nick Ansell / PA Wire/Press Association Images

Weight loss expert Dr Eva Orsmond has said there "are much more effective ways" to make a difference in the fight against obesity than a sugar tax.

A levy on soft drinks was announced as part of the latest budget measures in the UK.

It is estimated the tax will raise £520m (more than €660m) for primary school sports once it is introduced.

There have been calls for the introduction of a similar tax here in Ireland, led by Leo Varadkar. A pledge to introduce such a tax was also included in the election manifestos of several parties.

Dr Eva Orsmond - author and director of the Orsmond Clinic for Optimum Health and Weight Loss Success - spoke to Tara Duggan on today's Right Hook about the idea of a sugar tax.

"I think this is... the government trying to show that they are doing something," she said. "In reality, there are much more effective ways that actually will make a difference for childhood obesity and generally about obesity".

Dr Eva says it is impossible to know how much free sugar is in some products. "Sugar is in so many products... I've been in this industry for almost 20 years, and I wouldn't be able to tell you, with most of the products, how much sugar is in there because it's hidden and it's unclear," she explained.

"Of course we need to educate and we need to do something about this... but just concentrating on one product... in the UK the proposed tax is not even going to include fruit juices... It's not necessarily just these fizzy drinks," she said.

"I think the government knows that actually addressing the food legislation and food labelling is and will be a big task because there's so many people against that, because clearly they don't want people to know what we are eating," she suggested.

She also proposed three things she'd recommend being introduced in the fight against childhood obesity.

"I would definitely start with weighing children at schools and taking their heights... they don't even need to action, they just need to send the report back home. That would be very simple.

"We should [also] address the food labelling," she proposed, adding that during her research on the subject she could not believe how much free sugar is in products.

Finally, she said that "I really do think it should be mandatory that GPs, in any visit for whatever reason...you need to be weighed".

You can listen back to the full interview below: