THE SUGAR tax debate took another twist this week when the heath secretary Jeremy Hunt and NHS officials were accused of suppressing the findings of a scientific review into the controversial policy.
Public Health England – the country’s independent public health agency – has studied the benefits of taxes on sugary drinks and sweets alongside other initiatives such as reduced portion sizes and the elimination of junk food discounting.
It’s not known whether the research supports a sugar tax, but Hunt has refused to publish it.
Dr Sarah Wollaston, head of the Commons health select committee, has now challenged him to release the findings.
Writing for the Telegraph Wollaston explained: “This matters because the public health community and campaign groups need to be able to access unbiased evidence to fully contribute to the Government's forthcoming childhood obesity strategy before the ink is dry on the paper. It also matters because an important principle is at stake around the transparency of evidence and data.”
This week Dr Wollaston’s committee will start its inquiry into the forthcoming childhood obesity strategy, in turn providing its own recommendations.
Whilst it’s unlikely that a sugar tax will be part of the strategy, Hunt has hinted that a more “draconian” approach is required to tackle childhood obesity.