Health experts call for sugar tax to reduce childhood obesity

Monday, October 26, 2015

A coalition of health professionals, academics, nutritionists and campaigners are calling for a tax on sugar to protect the health of children in the UK.

The coalition is urging the Prime Minister David Cameron to follow in the footsteps of other countries and introduce a sugar tax, which they say has been successful in Mexico at reducing people's consumption of sugar.

Their call is backed by more than half of people who took part in a survey commissioned by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) - part of the coalition.

Of the 2,000 people who were polled, 53 per cent said they would support the introduction of taxes on unhealthy food and drinks to improve children's health.

On top of this, more than 149,000 peple have signed a petition by chef Jamie Oliver calling for the taxation of sugary drinks.

The coalition's call comes after a review by Public Health England last week recommended the introduction of a sugar tax and limiting the marketing and advertising of high sugar products to children to tackle obesity.

'Sugar reduction: The evidence for action', concludes that a range of factors including marketing, promotions, advertising and the amount of sugar in manufactured food, is contributing to an increase in the nation’s sugar consumption. This is leading to weight gain and related dentail health problems in children and adults.

However, the Prime Minister David Cameron has said he has no plans to introduce such a tax.

A Downing Street spokesperson said, 'The prime minister has been clear that there are more effective ways of tackling this issue than a sugar tax, which is why we are developing a comprehensive strategy looking at all the factors that contribute to a child becoming overweight.'

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England, said, ‘PHE’s evidence review shows there is no silver bullet solution to the nation’s bad sugar habit. A broad and balanced approach is our best chance of reducing sugar consumption to healthier levels and to see fewer people suffering the consequences of too much sugar in the diet.

‘We’ve shared out findings with the Government and are working with them on its childhood obesity strategy.’

The childhod obesity strategy is expected to be published by the end of the year. An inquiry by the Health Committee is currently underway to consider what the Government’s policy priorities should be.

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