'Sugar tax' call to tackle obesity

A campaign group has called on the Government to introduce a "sugar tax" to discourage consumption of sweetened soft drinks.

Action on Sugar said it had developed a seven-point plan to curb childhood obesity
Action on Sugar said it had developed a seven-point plan to curb childhood obesity

Action on Sugar said it had developed a seven-point plan to curb childhood obesity following a request for its views from Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

The measures include bringing in a sugar tax, limiting the availability of ultra-processed foods and sweetened soft drinks, and banning "junk food sports sponsorships".

The group's chairman, Professor Graham MacGregor, said: "Obesity in children leads to the premature development of cardiovascular disease, stroke, heart attacks and heart failure, which are the commonest cause of death and disability in the UK.

"Obesity predisposes to type II diabetes, which further increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and also, importantly, it can lead to severe complications, i.e. the commonest cause of blindness, renal dialysis and amputation of the lower limbs.

"These complications are extremely expensive to manage, and will cripple the NHS if the increase in obesity and type II diabetes is not stopped immediately.

"Obesity is preventable if the food environment is changed, yet the current policies are not working. The UK requires the implementation of this coherent strategy, starting by setting incremental sugar reduction targets for soft drinks this summer. No delays, no excuses."

Dr Aseem Malhotra, cardiologist and science director of Action on Sugar, said: "It is really quite shameful that the food industry continues to spend billions in junk food advertising targeting children, the most vulnerable members of society. They even manage to associate sugary products with sport.

"Physical activity has a multitude of benefits but a child doing an hour of PE every day would be putting all to waste if they ended up gorging on a burger and chips and a packet of crisps washed down with a sugary drink. One has to run half a marathon to burn off those calories. It's time to bust the myth of physical activity and obesity and dissociate junk food and sport."

The seven measures called for are:

Reduce added sugars by 40% by 2020 by reformulating food

Cease all forms of targeted marketing of ultra-processed, unhealthy foods and drinks to children

Disassociate physical activity with obesity via banning junk food sports sponsorships

Reduce fat in ultra-processed foods, particularly saturated fat - 15% reduction by 2020

Limit the availability of ultra-processed foods and sweetened soft drinks as well as reducing portion size

Incentivise healthier food and discourage drinking of soft drinks by introducing a sugar tax

Remove responsibility for nutrition from the Department of Health and return it back to an independent agency

A Department of Health spokesman said: "We know some people eat too many calories including sugar. Childhood obesity is at its lowest since 1998 but more should be done.

"Next week we will get expert scientific advice on sugar which will help shape future thinking. We will consider these recommendations as part of this."

Comments for: "'Sugar tax' call to tackle obesity"

markandlisa2007

So now this introduction of free school meals to tackle children being starved at home is now going to be undermined by putting up the price of anything that contains sugar put the price of food up and al your gonna achieve is more kids being underfed. The obese ones will stay pay the price and still eat the sugar you wont stop that itll make things worse because they`ll buy bigger quantities to save money instead of one bottle of fizzy pop theyll buy a pack of four or 24 to get the bulk buy discount and instead of consuming that one in a day they`ll consume 3 or 4. This will only affect the kids who`s parents are worse off who`s kids are borderlrne anyway.

Also it just means there will be less healthy food on the shopping list to compensate for the extra pennies needed for their sugar.