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UK plans to introduce tax on sugary drinks to tackle obesity

Published 08 January 2016

The UK government has confirmed that tax on sugary drinks is being considered as part of the government's anti-obesity strategy.

cola tax

The announcement follows Prime Minister David Cameron's earlier dismissal of the idea a couple of months ago.

Previously, the UK Prime Minister had ruled out any possibility of the introduction of tax on sugary drinks; however due to growing pressure from campaigners, MPs and nutrition and health experts, the government is now compelled to consider a sugar tax on sodas.

The pressure gained a further momentum with a study being published earlier this week that indicated that a 10% sugary tax on drinks in Mexico had led to a 12% drop in soda sales.

Another study also pointed out that lessing the sugar content in soft drinks and fruit juices by 40% could help cut down 300,000 cases of diabetes in the UK over five years as well as stop 1.5 million people from growing obese, reports The Guardian.

In the wake of the Mexican study, David Cameron was quoted by The Guardian as saying: "I don't really want to put new taxes on anything, but we do have to recognise that we face potentially in Britain something of an obesity crisis when we look at the effect of obesity not just on diabetes but the effect on heart disease, potentially on cancer, when we look at the costs on the NHS, the life-shortening potential of these problems.

"We do need to have a fully worked-up programme to deal with this problem and address these issues in Britain and we will be making announcements later in the year. We need to look at this in the same way [as] in the past [when] we have looked at the dangers of smoking to health, and other health-related issues."

Campaigners applauded David Cameron's stance. However, they stated that to have an impact, high taxes need to be imposed.

Action on Sugar chairman and co-author of the paper Prof Graham MacGregor said: "It should be an escalating tax, like alcohol, like cigarettes, and increase according to how the industry responds."

Several studies have indicated that children in the UK consume more than three times sugar content than recommended.

Soft drinks has turned out to be the biggest culprit of large amounts of sugar intake.

Image: UK PM mulls tax on sugary drinks. Photo: Courtesy of chayathonwong2000/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.