STATISTICS are bandied around very easily to make all manner of points, but sometimes, a well-placed stat can stop you in your tracks.

One such fact on The Northern Echo website does just that.

The average person in Middlesbrough eats the weight of a seven-year-old child in sugar each year. That’s 24kg, or 6,000 teaspoons.

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The statistic emerged during the launch of an awareness campaign trying to tackle the rising consumption of sugar in the town.

Middlesbrough’s problems with obesity are well documented – last year figures revealed 15 per cent of reception-age children in the town are obese compared to a national average of nine per cent, while of the youngsters in their last year of primary school, nearly one in four are classed as obese.

Initiatives such as the Sugar Smart Middlesbrough campaign we report on today are laudable. Bringing together local authorities, workplaces, schools and charities to share information and inspire people to make positive changes can only be a good thing.

But this type of action only goes so far. The sugar tax first proposed in March 2016 in George Osborne’s last budget as chancellor is due to come into force in April next year.

It will apply to sugary drinks, but not to confectionary.

If the Government is serious about tackling the obesity crisis facing the country, then it should consider extending the products covered by the tax.

Such a move would no doubt be unpopular and difficult to implement, given the lobbying power of the industry, but rates of obesity – a major cause of preventable illness including cancer, type two diabetes, coronary heart disease and stroke – are getting worse. Radical action is needed, otherwise these shocking stats will keep on coming.