Sugar tax pushed by Scotland doctors

By Nicholas Robinson contact

- Last updated on GMT

Scotland would be an 'ideal' place to implement a tax on sugar first
Scotland would be an 'ideal' place to implement a tax on sugar first

Related tags: Soft drinks, Public health, Epidemiology, Sugar substitute, British soft drinks association

A call for a tax on sugary food and drinks from the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh today will hike the pressure on industry to help tackle the UK’s obesity epidemic by making products healthier.

Being overweight was considered “the norm”, ​the college warned and claimed a tax on sugary food and drinks would help fund the “spiralling” ​healthcare costs associated with the issue.

The UK’s rising obesity epidemic would cost the National Health Service (NHS) more than £8bn by 2020​, according to Simon Stevens, NHS ceo, earlier this week.

A tax on sugary drinks is believed to have contributed to a 10% reduction in the consumption of the beverages in countries such as Mexico, Liverpool University chair of clinical epidemiology Simon Capewell will tell a conference in Edinburgh today (June 5).

‘Increase children’s health’

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“The revenues raised can then be invested back into initiatives to increase children’s health in these countries, as is happening in Mexico,” ​he will tell the conference, entitled ‘Obesity: A 21st​ Century Epidemic.”

Scotland would also be an ideal first place to implement a tax on sugar in the UK, he will add.

“Scotland has an excellent track record in addressing public health issues,” ​according to Capewell.

“Notable achievements include smoke-free public places and proposals for minimum unit pricing for alcohol. We need to explore how these developments could be repeated with sugary drinks.”

However, the British Soft Drinks Association (BSDA) has slammed the claims. BSDA director general Gavin Partington said: “Professor Capewell’s personal views are well-known in this area, but the case is not compelling.

Just four calories

A modelling study produced by health campaigners in 2013 predicted that a 20% tax on soft drinks in the UK would lead to a reduction of just four calories a day, he added.

“Whereas the effort by soft drinks companies, including product reformulation, smaller pack sizes and increased promotion of low- and no-calorie drinks, have led to a 7% reduction in calories in the past three years,” ​Partington said.

“It’s also worth noting that politicians in Belgium and Denmark rejected the notion of a tax in 2013 and the experience in France shows that, while sales of soft drinks initially fell after a tax was introduced in 2012, they have increased since.”

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2 comments

Sugar Tax

Posted by Dave,

Of course "The revenues raised will be invested back into initiatives to increase children's health..." How benevolent.

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Sugar tax pushed by "Scottish" doctors

Posted by Dr Christopher A Birt,

The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh represents physicians all over the UK (and actually across the world) - I am one such. Its Council incudes elected representatives of physicians, elected by members in all regions of England (as well as in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland). I fully support the recommendations of the College on this issue.

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