Does the UK need a 50% sugary drink tax?
The common proposed 20% sugar tax is not enough according to some, with obesity experts calling for a sugar tax of 50% to be implemented instead, in order to significantly alter the nation’s eating and drinking habits. Health professionals from the charity National Obesity Forum argue that the 20% being lobbied by Public Health England would simply be an “insufficient” deterrent for buying sugary drinks. Therefore, if this plan came to fruition, a 330ml bottle of coke would surge from the typical price of 99p to £1.49 – a huge increase. This recommendation comes after prime minster David Cameron seemed to suggest last week that the Government may consider bringing in a levy on fizzy drinks this year after promising a “fully worked-up programme” for combating an increasingly problematic UK obesity crisis. Mr Cameron said the consumption of sugary drinks were also responsible for having a negative effect on NHS money through increased cases of cancer and heart disease. At a press conference on Thursday, Mr Cameron said: “I don’t really want to put new taxes onto 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 on not just diabetes but the effect on heart disease, potentially on cancer, 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’ll be making announcements later this year.” Professor David Haslam, chairman of the National Obesity Forum, commented: “Anything less than a 50 per cent tax on sugary drinks will be insufficient as a disincentive to consumers. “We don’t currently support taxing food products…but sugary drinks have no place in anyone’s diet.” If the prime minister decides to go ahead with his own government-ordered report’s plan of introducing a 20% sugar tax, this would be a surprising U-turn by Mr Cameron, who commented only in October that he was not behind the idea of a sugar tax. At the time, his spokeswoman added there were “more effective ways of tackling this issue than putting a tax on sugar”. The National Obesity Forum is not the only British organisation calling for a tax on sugary drinks. Last week the Cancer Research UK and the UK Health Forum released a collaborative report urging for new measures for reducing obesity rates, such as the introduction of a tax specifically on the sale of sugar-sweetened beverages.