Health Committee backs sugar tax idea

Health Committee backs sugar tax idea

A group of MPs has thrown its weight behind the idea of placing a sugary drinks tax on full sugar soft drinks.

The Health Committee at the House of Commons believes the measure could help to change behaviour and generate funds to help children at the greatest risk of obesity.

A report by the committee stated that treating obesity and its consequences currently costs the NHS more than £5.1 billion a year.

The report also noted that obesity is one of the risk factors for type 2 diabetes, which accounts for almost nine per cent of the NHS budget.

In light of the continued strain on public finances, the committee believes positive action needs to be taken to change people's lifestyles and help adopt healthier habits and diets.

As well as a sugar tax, it wants strong controls on price promotions of unhealthy food and drink.

In addition, it has called for tighter restrictions on marketing these products, as well as improved education and information about diets.

Dr Sarah Wollaston, the chair of the Health Committee, commented: "One-third of children leaving primary school are overweight or obese, and the most deprived children are twice as likely to be obese than the least deprived. 

"This has serious consequences for both their current and future health and wellbeing and we cannot continue to fail these children."

Dr Wollaston acknowledged that many different factors are contributing to this trend, which means there is no one single way to tackle the problem.

As a result, she has urged the government to adopt "bold and wide-ranging methods" in its childhood obesity strategy, in order to make a positive and lasting difference to the health and life chances of young people.

Dr Wollaston added that the problem will only continue to get worse if the government fails to act and that a package of strong measures should be put in place as soon as possible.

She said the sugary drinks tax needs to be one of these measures, with all proceeds "clearly directed to improving our children's health".