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Public Health England’s report recommends 10-20% sugar tax on fizzy drinks

Published 26 October 2015

Public Health England’s report has recommended a 10-20% sugar tax on soft drinks and a restriction on advertisements and marketing of sugary foods targeting children.

sugar tax

The document, which has taken more than a year to file, has severely criticized the UK's food friendly environment which has led to the rise of obesity in the nation.

The report also blamed the constantly growing swath of restaurants, cafes, and fast food options and stated that there is a need for better action than a simple change of labeling laws.

The PHE document was quoted by news.com.au as saying: "The whole food environment and culture has changed slowly over the last 30 to 40 years. There are now more places to buy and eat food which is, in real terms, cheaper, more convenient, served in bigger portion sizes and subject to more marketing and promotions than ever before."

The public health body is seeking a 10-20% tax on sugary drinks, which are considered to be the main cause of obesity in school-going children. The body also wants to regulate the marketing, promotion and advertising campaigns that target children. It calls for better labeling practices, improvement in public facilities and campaigns like "five a day" to ensure that the public get the message.

The report hopefully stated that: "It is likely that price increases on specific high sugar products like sugar sweetened drinks, such as through fiscal measures like a tax or levy, if set high enough, would reduce purchasing at least in the short term."

Sugar is among the key substances that are contributing to global obesity along with salt and fat. It contributes to approximately 12-15% of the UK diets, most of which is hidden away in sauces, mayonnaise, cereals and alcohol, news.com.au reported.

In line with the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines, the PHE wants to curb sugar intake to less than 5% so that it helps prevent a horde of health issues ranging from obesity, diabetics to dental decay, which cost the country a billion every year.

A public poll was taken to know what the tax payer feels about the issue. The public support for tax on sugary drinks and food stands at 53% after around 2,000 people were surveyed, reported The Guardian.

Despite the severe pressure from all corners, the UK Prime Minister David Cameron is unlikely to cave into it. A spokesman at prime Minister's Office was quoted by The Guardian as saying: "The prime minister has been clear that there are more effective ways of tackling this issue than a sugar tax, which is why we are developing a comprehensive strategy looking at all the factors that contribute to a child becoming overweight."

Doctors are also pushing the envelope by demanding the ministers to induce food manufacturers to cut down on sugar content in yoghurt, cereals, sauces apart from cakes and sweets. The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, which represents around 240,000 British doctors, has announced that it supports the sugar tax idea and backs the fiscal measures intended to reduce sugar intake.

Image: Tax on sugary drinks finds public support. Photo: Courtesy of tiverylucky/FreeDigiatlPhotos.net.