British Government Urges Sugar Tax to Control Obesity Epidemic
In an attempt to tackle childhood obesity from a more legislative approach, British Lawmakers are pressuring the government to introduce a tax on sugary drinks that will effectively control the price for unhealthy food items.
According to NBC News, Parliament’s Health Committee feels that there is “clear evidence that measures to improve the food environment” need to be employed in order to mitigate the ongoing obesity crisis in the United Kingdom, which costs the country’s health services over $7 billion annually.
In the Parliament Health Committee’s report, they urged that the government place strong controls on the price promotion of foods high in sugar, such as sodas and sweets. The report then recommends that the remaining proceeds go to helping the children who are at the highest risk for obesity.
In addition to controlling the prices of sugary, unhealthy foods themselves, the report urges that there should be more constraints on the marketing and advertising of these foodstuffs, with labels that show sugar content in readable measurements like teaspoons.
“One-third of children leaving primary school are overweight or obese, and the most deprived children are twice as likely to be obese than the least deprived,” said Sarah Wollaston, chairman of the Health Committee.
“A full package of bold measures is required and should be implemented as soon as possible.”
The Committee hopes that these changes will enable families to make healthier food choices, and will lead to an increased consumption of healthy food items.
In fact, consuming fruits and vegetables three times a day is associated with 27% reduced incidence of stroke, 42% reduced stroke mortality, and 25% reduced mortality from cardiovascular disease, among other health improvements.
Meanwhile, the soda industry in Britain has criticized the Health Committee’s statements, accusing the lawmakers of “swallowing” the lobbyists’ agendas.
“It’s disappointing that the committee has missed its chance to add a robustly independent voice to the obesity debate,” said Ian Wright, director general of Britain’s Food and Drink Federation.
Wright adds that consumers pay billions in taxes on food and drink and feels that the report seems to exclude consumers in its decision making.