The calls for sugary drinks to be taxed have grown stronger with doctors’ leaders joining the group of people backing the idea
The British Medical Association (BMA) are the latest to say a levy should be put on drinks with a major sugar content.
A report from the BMA, called Food For Thought, has sent out a dire warning about how much obesity is costing the NHS.
It says poor diet costs the health service £6 billion a year, which is a greater impact that alcohol abuse, smoking or general physical activity.
The report’s author, BMA’s board of science chairwoman Professor Sheila Hollins, said: “Doctors are increasingly concerned about the impact of poor diet, which is responsible for up to 70,000 deaths a year, and has the greatest impact on the NHS budget, costing #6 billion annually.
“While sugar-sweetened drinks are very high in calories they are of limited nutritional value and when people in the UK are already consuming far too much sugar, we are increasingly concerned about how they contribute towards conditions like diabetes.”
The BMA backed the proposal of a 20p tax on all non-alcoholic water based beverages with added sugar, including sugar-sweetened soft drinks, energy drinks, fruit drink, sports drinks and fruit-juice concentrates, could subsidise the sale of fruit and vegetables.
The BMA said a tax would help get around 180,000 in the UK out of the obesity bracket.
“This is an important way to help redress the imbalance highlighted previously between the cost of healthy and unhealthy products, which particularly impacts on individuals and families affected by food poverty,” Professor Sheila Hollins said.
“Children’s diets are easily influenced, so regulating the food provided in schools, and providing free fruit and vegetables in primary schools, is an important way to support healthier diets among children and young people. All academies and free schools must be subject to the same mandatory standards as state schools, as without them they are more likely to provide cheaper, poorer quality food.”