Obesity lobby should be resisted: government insider

By Michael Stones contact

- Last updated on GMT

Don't miss your free place at our independent obesity webinar at 11am GMT on Thursday July 3
Don't miss your free place at our independent obesity webinar at 11am GMT on Thursday July 3

Related tags: Food manufacture group, Nutrition

The prime minister should resist pressure from lobby groups to tax sugar and fat, a government insider has told this website.

The insider – who is close to the heart of policy making – said: “Giving in to lobby groups would cause great hardship and not change people’s habits if you ​[the government] started to tax food.”

The Food Manufacture Group is staging an independent, free, one-hour webinar​ on the causes of Britain’s obesity crisis and its remedies at on Thursday July 3 at 11am GMT. See end of this article for more details.

The source acknowledged mounting pressure from lobby groups on the prime minister and coalition government for a fiscal remedy to the nation’s obesity crisis – estimated to cost the National Health Service alone about £4.2bn a year. But the insider said: “I hope the government will resist calls to tax sugar and fat.

“Food manufacturers have adjusted their​ [production] methods and levels of sugar and fat are dropping. And they should do what they can to reduce levels even further.”

‘Lifestyle scourges’

Obesity was “one of the lifestyle scourges of twentieth century living”,​ the source said.

Last week campaign group Action on Sugar (AoS) analysed 232 sugar-sweetened drinks and declared that 79% contained six or more spoons of sugar​ and nine out of 10 were labelled with a red traffic light for sugar content. All the products scrutinised were sold in leading supermarkets, it added.

Professor Graham MacGregor, who leads the AoS campaign, said: “Added sugars are completely unnecessary in our diets and strongly linked to obesity and type 2 diabetes, as well as to dental caries; which remain a major problem for children and adults.

“We urge the secretary of state for health, Jeremy Hunt MP, to set incremental targets for sugar reduction now – and to start with these sugary drinks.”

Free online seminar

MacGregor is one of four speakers contributing to our free online seminar – Obesity and health: the big fat, sugar and salt debate​ – to be broadcast at 11am GMT on Thursday July 3.

The Food Manufacture Group is staging the webinar in association with the Institute of Food Science & Technology, with the backing of the British Dietetics Association and the Nutrition Society. The webinar aims to move the debate away from vested interest, special pleading to a more secure footing based on independent interpretation of sound scientific evidence.

Other organisations taking part are the National Institute for Health Research, the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), and Leeds University.

Speakers will include:

• Professor Alan Jackson, director National Institute for Health Research, Southampton Biomedical Research Centre

• Barbara Gallani, director of the FDF’s Regulatory, science and health division

• Graham MacGregor, professor of cardiovascular medicine at the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine and chairman of Consensus Action on Salt & Health and Action on Sugar

• Dr Charlotte Evans, lecturer in nutritional epidemiology and public health nutrition at the University of Leeds

Register for your free place here​. There is no limit to delegate numbers and, once registered, delegates will be able to listen to the online event at any time after its first transmission.

Attendees will be able to submit questions for panel members during the broadcast or in advance to zvpunry.fgbarf@jeoz.pbz​. 

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