A group of influential MPs has urged the Government at the end of November to introduce a tax on sugar sweetened soft drinks to help combat childhood obesity. The recommendation was made in a report by the Health Select Committee, following their inquiry into childhood obesity.
The Government has come under growing pressure to include a proposal to implement the tax as part of its childhood obesity strategy, which is expected out early in 2016. In October 2015, Public Health England called on the UK Government to herald the tax in its sugar reduction report.
The Health Select Committee report also calls for limits on price promotions on unhealthy foods and restrictions on the marketing of unhealthy food to children.
Chris Askew, Diabetes UK Chief Executive, said:
‘Almost a third of children in the UK in their final year of primary school are overweight or obese and if nothing is changed they will be at greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes in later life, which is a serious health condition that can lead to debilitating and life threatening complications such as amputations, heart attack and stroke. These complications are not only personally devastating to all those involved but also continue to put great pressure on an already stretched NHS.
‘This is why it’s essential that there is bold and far reaching action taken across a number of areas to enable people to make healthy choices. The recent launch of the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme, aimed at those at high risk of Type 2 diabetes, is an important first step. But there is still more to be done, which is why we want the Government, to implement the recommendations from today’s Health Select Committee report into childhood obesity.
‘As the report makes clear, a package of measures is needed for reducing childhood obesity, which includes restricting marketing of junk food to children; making food and drinks healthier; and mandatory consistent front of pack colour-coded labelling to help parents make informed choices when buying food for their families. We also support calls to introduce a tax on drinks high in sugar, reducing and rebalancing the number and type of the price promotions on unhealthy foods and setting national standards for healthy foods in the public sector. The Government should also continue to invest in educating the public about healthy living and making it easier for people to be more physically active.
‘If enacted together all of these measures will provide a supportive environment to enable members of the public to live long and healthy lives.’
Diabetes UK has joined a new national alliance of organisations fighting obesity. For further information, you can read the alliance’s joint statement here: https://www.diabetes.org.uk/Global/Homepage/News/FINAL_%20joint_position_childhood_obesity_ASNov15.pdf