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Sugar tax on soft drinks not ‘silver bullet’ for obesity crisis, campaigners say

It is hoped the levy will pave the way for a more ambitious obesity policy.

The sugar tax on soft drinks will come into effect on Friday (Brian Lawless/PA)
The sugar tax on soft drinks will come into effect on Friday (Brian Lawless/PA)

The introduction of a tax on sugary drinks is an important step in the fight against obesity but will not be a “silver bullet” to solve the crisis, campaigners have said.

A number of manufacturers have opted to reformulate products to avoid the levy when it comes into effect on Friday, which will affect soft drinks containing more than 5g of sugar per 100ml.

(PA Graphics)

It is hoped the tax will mark the start of a more ambitious Government obesity policy, including tighter measures to regulate the advertising of junk food.

Caroline Cerny, of the Obesity Health Alliance, a coalition of more than 40 organisations, said: “We have always said that when it comes to obesity, there are lots of different factors that come into play and there is no one magic silver bullet.

“This sugary drink tax will certainly help but on its own we would not expect it to dramatically reduce obesity.

“We need to have a full raft of measures that tackle the wider obesogenic environment.

“This is a really important first step, but it needs to work together with lots of other measures, in particular tackling junk food marketing.”

(PA Graphics)

More work could also be done to help manufacturers reduce the sweetness of drinks as well as the sugar content, to help “change” palettes and get people used to a less sugary diet, Ms Cerny said.

Ed Morrow, a spokesman for the Royal Society for Public Health, said the introduction of the sugar tax was “just a part of the overall picture”.

He added: “It’s a key plank in what we hope now will develop into a more ambitious obesity policy from the Government.”

Better regulation to combat the advertising of high fat, salt or sugar foods has been “sorely lacking” in strategy, Mr Morrow said.

“The level of the obesity crisis that we face is such that it’s not going to be solved by one silver bullet measure, it’s about a lot of things working in concert for a sustained period of time,” he said.

“Changing marketing will be part of that.”

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From Belfast Telegraph