More reports on: Health & Medicine

Doctors join call for sugar tax on drinks

13 July 2015

Joining a call for a tax on sugar, leaders of doctors said, a 20p levy on sugary drinks would be a "useful first step" towards the long-term goal of taxing a wide range of products in the fight to reduce obesity in the UK.

According to the British Medical Association (BMA), imposing the tax could reduce incidence of obesity in the UK by around 180,000 people.

With a third of the population projected to be obese by 2030, it also wanted schools and academies to adhere to the same "strict food regulations" currently in place in schools, and also improve teaching about cooking and healthy eating for pupils.

In a report, Food For Thought, it warned that poor diet cost the NHS around 6 billion a year, meaning it had a greater impact on its budget than alcohol consumption, smoking or physical inactivity.

The BMA is the latest body to call for a tax on sugar, a move that was shot down by health secretary Jeremy Hunt last year.

In a recent report, the Food Research Collaboration said the government needed to stop living in a "fantasy world'' and consider taxing unhealthy products.

It added, according to academic research, the healthiest diets cost double the price of the least healthy ones, and the healthy-unhealthy food price gap as widening.

The BMA estimates that poor diets cause 70,000 premature deaths every year.

The report added, the extra revenue was needed to be used to make fruit and vegetables cheaper so that we "create an environment where dietary choices default to healthy options".

"I think it is a massive problem illustrated by the fact that obesity is increasing," BMA doctor Shree Datta told the BBC.

"We're looking at 30 per cent of the Britain's population being obese by the year 2030, a large extent of that is due to the amount of sugar we're actually consuming without realising," the doctor added.

According to the report, sugar added to food or naturally present in fruit juice and honey should account for 5 per cent of energy intake.

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