Nearly 150,000 people have signed the celebrity chef’s petition which calls for a tax on sugary drinks in a bid to fight childhood obesity.
The government’s confirmation that it has “no plans” for a sugar tax was welcomed by Food and Drink Federation (FDF) director general Ian Wright this week.
“Jamie Oliver and his followers have an important contribution to make but the focus on a sugar tax is misplaced,” Wright said.
Reaction from FDF
“New taxes would hit those on lower incomes without improving the nation’s health.”
- Ian Wright, director general at Food and Drink Federation (FDF)
‘Hit those on lower incomes’
“So we are pleased that the government has definitively ruled it out. New taxes would hit those on lower incomes without improving the nation’s health.”
He said the UK’s food and drink producers were fighting obesity through commitments on reformulation, portion size and marketing and community interventions.
“Instead of kite-flying [the idea of] an anti-competitive advertising watershed, the government should rule out regulatory tools which just won’t work and will damage UK productivity and threaten investment,” he said.
The online petition, created by Oliver, claimed a 7p tax on regular soft drink cans containing added sugar could generate £1bn a year and save thousands of lives.
‘Much needed preventative strategies’
It said: “We believe this crucial revenue should be ring-fenced to support much needed preventative strategies in the NHS and schools around childhood obesity and diet-related disease.”
In response, the Department of Health (DH) said there were no plans to introduce a sugar tax on drinks but the government kept all taxes under review.
“The causes of obesity are complex, caused by a number of dietary, lifestyle, environmental and genetic factors, and tackling it will require a comprehensive and broad approach,” the DH said.
“As such, the government is considering a range of options for tackling childhood obesity, and the contribution that government, alongside industry, families and communities can make, and will announce its plans for tackling childhood obesity by the end of the year.”
Key health facts
- Type-2 diabetes costs the NHS £9bn a year
- A third of children leave primary school overweight or obese
- Tooth decay is main reason five- to nine-year-olds are admitted to hospital
Source: Children’s Health Fund