David Cameron rules out sugar tax despite new Public Health England report

Jack Woodfield
Fri, 23 Oct 2015
David Cameron rules out sugar tax despite new Public Health England report
Prime Minister David Cameron has opposed the introduction of a sugar tax and believes there are "more effective ways of tackling" obesity.

A spokesman for Mr. Cameron said on Thursday that the government had no plans to introduce a levy on fizzy drinks and sweet food. This is despite a new report from Public Health England (PHE) which called for several measures to tackle obesity - a key risk factor for type 2 diabetes. One of these is a sugar tax.

Studies have linked sugary drink consumption to obesity and 8,000 cases of type 2 diabetes per year. Prior to this PHE report, a sugar tax has been proposed by several organisations including Action on Sugar and the Children's Food Campaign.

Earlier this year, a report from the British Medical Association (BMA) called for a 20 per cent tax on sugar. They argued that taxation measures on unhealthy food and drink products has consistently had the potential to improve health.

Downing Street reaction

Downing Street confirmed that the government is looking at "better ways" to tackle childhood obesity. These include a crackdown on the advertising of sugary products and promotional deals of sweet food and drink.

But, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt was told on Tuesday that a sugar tax could cut childhood obesity. This is according to the PHE report that the government reportedly tried to delay.

PHE, an independent body that was set up to improve the country's health, has called for reduced price promotions on sugary foods, reduced sugar in everyday food and drink, and a "price increase of a minimum of 10-20 per cent on high-sugar products through the use of a tax or levy such as on full-sugar soft drinks."

They also highlight how in Mexico, sales of sugary drinks have fallen by six per cent after a 10 per cent tax was introduced.

Sugary drinks are the biggest provider of sugar for children, and according to PHE, nearly a third of 10-11 year olds in England are overweight or obese. PHE adds that obesity costs the NHS £5.1 billion a year.

A government strategy into childhood obesity was due to be published in December, but Downing Street has revealed this will not be released until early next year.
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