THE PRESSURE IS on the government to drop opposition to a 20% tax on sugary drinks.
A report by a cross party health select committee has concluded a 10-20% tax is an essential part of any national strategy to tackle childhood obesity.
The move is welcomed by campaigners and health groups, such as Jamie Oliver, who launched a petition signed by 150,000 people calling for a sugar tax.
A fifth of 4-5 year olds are overweight or obese, and this rises to a third of 10-11 year olds.
Children consume three times the recommended daily allowance of sugar. Soft drinks are the biggest culprit, accounting for between 16-29% of children’s sugar intake.
The introduction of a sugar tax in Mexico is credited with reducing sales of sugary drinks by 12% by the end of its first year.
The report acknowledged that a tax on full sugar drinks will not solve obesity in isolation, but “it is likely to reduce purchases of these products, at least in the short term.”
The report highlights that while treating obesity is estimated to cost the NHS £5.1bn a year, and diabetes costs it £8.8bn, the UK spends only £638m on obesity prevention programmes.