The levy of sugar tax – possibly at a rate of up to 20% – was among eight recommendations made by a report from government body Public Health England (PHE).
PHE found that evidence backed up campaigner Jamie Oliver’s argument that a sugar tax would reduce the consumption of sugary drinks and help tackle obesity.
But the control of advertising and price promotions for unhealthy food and drink was expected to have a greater impact, according to the report.
Reaction from industry
“However we do not agree that the international evidence supports the introduction of a sugar tax and for this reason would oppose such a move.”
- Ian Wright, director general at the Food and Drink Federation
‘Price, promotions and marketing’
“The evidence shows that price, promotions and marketing are all effective strategies influencing preference for, and purchasing of, high sugar products in England,” the report said.
“It is therefore very likely that they are also significantly contributing to our high intakes of sugar.”
Other proposed measures included setting a clearer definition for ‘high sugar foods’, reducing sugar content in products and raising awareness about sugar.
Food and Drink Federation director general Ian Wright welcomed the publication of the report and renewed the industry’s commitment to tackle child obesity.
‘Advertised to children’
“Steps are already in hand to ensure that high fat, salt and sugar foods will not be advertised to children,” Wright said.
“Likewise, the industry has already removed millions of calories from the food chain and will continue to make progress on this through reformulation and changes to portion/pack sizes.”
Wright said it may be possible, through negotiation, to improve the definition of ‘high sugar foods’ as suggested in the report.
“However we do not agree that the international evidence supports the introduction of a sugar tax and for this reason would oppose such a move,” he said.
Eight steps to curb sugar intake
- Reduce price promotions
- Reduce high sugar adverts
- Set definition for high sugar foods
- Reduce portion sizes and sugar in products
- Introduce tax or levy on sugary drinks
- Monitor buying standards for foodservices
- Ensure diet training is on offer
- Raise awareness about sugar