MP’s want to start taxing us on sugary drinks, as part of measures to tackle child obesity in England.
The Commons’ Health Committee said there was “compelling evidence” a tax would reduce the amount of sugar we drink. The report, puts pressure on ministers who’ve tried to resist a tax and also proposes a crackdown on advertising.
The government will set out its plans early next year when it publishes its plans for tackling the growing problem of child obesity. The committee acknowledged there was no single solution to the problem but the report said calls for a tax could “no longer be ignored”.
It pointed to evidence from Mexico which introduced a tax on sugar sweetened drinks of ten per cent and saw a six per cent reduction in consumption.
MPs urged the government to use the strategy to take action on the issue, pointing out that a fifth of children start primary school overweight or obese, rising to a third by the time they leave.
The committee also called for:
A crackdown on price promotions of unhealthy foods
Tougher controls on marketing, including the use of cartoon characters to promote unhealthy food
A ban on advertising unhealthy foods on television before 21:00Advertisement
Clearer labelling of products showing sugar content in teaspoons
A drive to force industry to reduce sugar in food and drink as has happened with salt
MP’s said the government in England should work with its counterparts in the rest of the UK on these points.
Food and Drink Federation director general, Ian Wright, condemned the committee’s “disappointing” report saying:
No-one seems to have considered hard-pressed consumers in all this. Consumers already pay billions in VAT on food and drink,
As a result of the arbitrary new tax recommended by the committee, which, if introduced, would inevitably be increased year-on-year and extended to other foods, would leave consumers paying significantly more, every week, for the products they love.
The move to tax sugar in food is a controversial one, with critics pointing out that it will hit the poorest hardest and the government do not support the tax.