Following claims from the British Soft Drinks Association that a sugar tax could cause thousands of job losses, the Obesity Health Alliance has responded by insisting the focus needs to be on reducing childhood obesity.
A tax on sugary drinks is scheduled to come into effect in 2018. As a result, manufacturers of the tax will face higher rates for drinks with more than 8g of sugar per 100ml, while taxes will be lower for drinks with 5g per 100ml.
A new study by Oxford Economics, on behalf of the British Soft Drinks Associatio, says the tax could lead to 4,000 job losses.
However, the Obesity Health Alliance – which is a coalition of over 30 charities such as the British Heart Foundation and Diabetes UK – insists that the soft drinks industry is placing too much of a toll on the NHS, and that it needs to reform.
In a joint statement, the Obesity Health Alliance said: “The soft drinks industry levy will save money tomorrow by helping to tackle children’s obesity today.
“Sugary soft drinks have no nutritional value and are the single biggest contributor to a child’s sugar intake, and high consumption of sugar is one of the factors fuelling the obesity crisis.
“A third of children are overweight or obese by the time they leave primary school, putting them at a greater risk of serious health conditions later in life such as type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart and liver disease and associated mental health problems.
“These conditions place an immense toll on our nation’s health and our already’stretched health service. The levy has huge potential help tackle obesity and save the NHS money.”
Whilst the study by Oxford Economics adds that the tax will hit the entire drinks supply chai, from farmers to manufacturers to the pub and restaurant trade, the other side of the equation concerns the negative effects of sugary drinks on workers’ health across all industries.
A Treasury spokesperson added that if the soft drinks industry reformulates, they won’t have to pay the tax.
“The levy is about getting producers to use healthier ingredients to reduce the levels of added sugar in products our children consumen,” said the Treasury.
“Companies have two years before the levy comes into force to adapt, and it’s designed to encourage them to reformulate their products so there is less added sugar in soft drinks. Already Britvic has said it will reduce calories in their drinks by 20 per cent over the next four years in response to the levy.”
The government is set to publish its childhood obesity strategy later this year, despite it originally being scheduled for last year.

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