Sugar tax backed by MPs

MP’s have agreed a tax on sugary drinks should be introduced as a measure to tackle child obesity in England. 

The Commons’ Health Committee has conducted a report entitled ‘child obesity - a brave and bold action’, which says there is now ‘compelling evidence’ that a tax would reduce consumption. 

The report criticises ministers who have so far resisted the tax insisting calls for a tax ‘could no lover be ignored’, and proposes a crackdown on marketing and advertising.

In addition to some ministers, food industry representatives claim a new tax would be unfair on consumers. The government will be publishing its plans early next year, along with its child obesity strategy, however, it has admitted a tax would be an unfavourable result. 

The report calibrated evidence from Mexico, where a ten per cent tax on sugar-sweetened drinks saw a six per cent reduction in consumption. It also urged government to use the strategy to take control of the obesity crisis by outlining the fact that a fifth of children start primary school overweight or obese, rising to a third by the time the leave. 

In addition to tax, the report called for: a crack down on price promotions of unhealthy foods; tougher controls on marketing, including the use of cartoon characters to promote unhealthy food; a ban on advertising unhealthy foods on television before 21:00; clear labelling of products showing sugar content in teaspoons; and a drive to force industry to reduce sugar in food and drink, as has happened with salt.