Yesterday, the government announced a new £520m levy on sugary drinks, to be brought into effect in two years’ time.
Professor Graham MacGregor, chairman of Action on Sugar, said: “We are delighted to see in today’s Budget announcement that the government will be introducing a new sugar levy on soft drinks, which will be used to double the funding they dedicate to sport in every primary school.”
But he added that he didn’t feel the tax went far enough. He said: “For this to be effective, it’s imperative that the levy is at least 20% on all sugar-sweetened soft drinks and confectionery, and escalate thereafter if companies do not comply to reformulation targets – and this must be implemented immediately.”
He summed up by saying that the campaign group was looking forward to the Prime Minister’s delayed Childhood Obesity Strategy, which is due to be announced in the summer.
“He [David Cameron] now has a unique opportunity to produce a coherent, structured evidence-based plan based on our six key recommendations, which includes food and drink reformulation, to prevent obesity, type 2 diabetes and tooth decay.”
Paula Moynihan, professor of nutrition and oral health at Newcastle University, also welcomed the inplementation of a sugar tax:
She said: "Sugared drinks are the largest source of sugar in the diets of children in the UK and we know that current high sugar intakes are contributing to obesity and tooth decay. Our research has revealed that when less than 5 per cent of calories in the diet come from free sugars, there are much lower levels of tooth decay. The announcement by George Osborne to introduce a tax on sugared soft drinks is a welcome step towards tackling childhood obesity and lowering the amount of sugar consumed in drinks.
"Evidence from other countries where a tax on sugared drinks has been introduced indicates taxing is effective in reducing the amount purchased and it is now up to the rest of the world to follow the example being set by the UK and others to tackle obesity and other conditions linked to sugars such as tooth decay on a global scale."