THE BRITISH MEDICAL ASSOCIATION has urged the adoption of a 20% tax on sugary drinks in order to reduce the risk of obesity in the UK by around 180,000 people.
The Food For Thought report from the BMA argues that taxing specific food groups in this way – such as the sugary drinks tax in Mexico – has been shown to cut consumption.
The report claims the use of taxation measures on unhealthy food and drink products “has consistently been found to have the potential to improve health, with relatively high taxation levels – in the region of 20% – needed to achieve positive health outcomes”.
“While taxing a wide range of products is an important long-term goal, a useful first step would be to implement a duty on sugar-sweetened beverages by increasing the price by at least 20%,” the report said.
The levy would see a 65p can of fizzy drink rise to at least 78p and a two-litre bottle would rise from £1.85 to £2.22.
The British Dietetic Association have issued a statement stating the nation’s diet consumes too much added sugar, especially in those aged between four and 18.
The latest data from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey from 2008/09 to 2011/12 shows that average sugar intakes exceed current recommendations in all age groups.
As a result, diet- and obesity-related diseases cost the NHS around £11bn per year, and are major contributors to health inequality, with the most deprived being most at risk.
The subsidy of healthier products such as fruit and vegetables is needed to “create an environment where dietary choices default to healthy options”, the BMA added.
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