Adding Tax to sugary drinks to help stop child deaths

A recent study by the British Medical Association (BMA), titled ‘Food for thought: promoting healthy diets among children and young people’. The 'Food for thought' report sets out the measures needed to help promote healthier diets among children and young people.

You may have heard in the news recently that some doctors are wanting a tax to be put on sugary drinks. This is to try and discourage people from buying them in aid the fight against obesity. The tax would be an aditional 20 per cent on the price of all beverages with added sugars and the proceeds could be used to subsidise fruit and vegetables.

In this report the BMA has highlighted the benefits the tax could bring to more than 180,000 obese people living in the UK.

Diet related diseases and ill-health currently cost the NHS more than £6 billion a year and account for 70,000 premature deaths each year, that's 12 per cent of the total number of deaths in the UK. To put that in perspective that's more than deaths from alcohol, smoking and physical inactivity.

Baroness Sheila Hollins, Chair of the board of Science at the BMA, writes in her foreword: “How can we expect a child to develop normative behaviours about eating healthily when so many of the messages they are exposed to promote the opposite?"

“If a tax of at least 20 per cent is introduced, it could be expected to reduce the prevalence of obesity in the UK by around 180,000 people.

“Financial measures should be considered to regulate the price of healthier products, such as fruit and vegetables, through subsidisation.

“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.

"We know from experience in other countries that taxation on unhealthy food and drinks can improve health outcomes, and the strongest evidence of effectiveness is for a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages."

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