Doctors join call for 20p sugar tax on drinks
Doctors' leaders have joined the call for a tax on sugar, saying a 20p levy on sugary drinks would be a "useful first step" towards the long-term goal of taxing a wide range of products in the fight to reduce obesity in the UK.
The British Medical Association (BMA) said imposing the tax could reduce the prevalence of obesity in the UK by around 180,000 people.
With a third of the population projected to be obese by 2030, it also wants to see all free schools and academies adhere to the same "strict food regulations" currently in place in schools, as well as improve teaching about cooking and healthy eating for pupils.
Its report, Food For Thought, warns that poor diet costs the NHS around £6bn a year, meaning it has a greater impact on its budget than alcohol consumption, smoking or physical inactivity.
The BMA is the latest body to call for a tax on sugar, a move that was ruled out by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt last year.
A recent report by the Food Research Collaboration said the Government should stop living in a "fantasy world'' and consider taxing unhealthy products.
It said academic research found the healthiest diets cost double the price of the least healthy ones, and the gap between the price of healthy and unhealthy foods is widening.
The BMA report suggests a minimum 20p tax on all non-alcoholic water-based beverages with added sugar, including sugar-sweetened soft drinks, energy drinks, fruit drink, sports drinks and fruit-juice concentrates, could subsidise the sale of fruit and vegetables.
It said it would also like to see a ban on all marketing of unhealthy food and drink products to children and young people.