Fizzy drinks giants reject tax rise to tackle obesity
Manufacturers of fizzy drinks have hit back at a call by GPs for them to be taxed to help tackle spiralling levels of obesity.
Following a report released by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, which expressed concerns about public health, the soft drinks industry has rejected the idea that a tax would help. An industry body has said their products account for just two per cent of calories in an average diet and it is what people consume overall which needs to be addressed.
They also said sales of fizzy drinks have fallen during the last decade, but levels of obesity have risen.
Gavin Partington, director-general of the British Soft Drinks Association, said: “We share the recognition that obesity is a major public health priority but reject the idea that a tax on soft drinks, which contribute just two per cent of the total calories in the average diet, is going to address a problem which is about overall diet and levels of activity.
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“Over the last 10 years, the consumption of soft drinks containing added sugar has fallen by nine per cent while the incidence of obesity has been increasing, and 61 per cent of soft drinks now contain no added sugar.
“Soft drinks companies are also committing to further, voluntary action as part of the Government’s Responsibility Deal Calorie Reduction Pledge. Don’t forget that there already is a 20 per cent tax on soft drinks, 10p out of every 60p can of drink already goes to the Government thanks to VAT. Putting up taxes even further will put pressure on people’s purses at a time when they can ill afford it.”
The AMRC, which represents nearly every one of Britain’s 220,000 doctors, is pressing the Government, the NHS and food organisations for action on what it calls the greatest public health crisis affecting the UK, The Guardian said. Figures say one in four adults is obese and that number is expected to double by 2050, presenting an unresolvable problem. The report says doctors from across the medical profession are united in their concerns, and criticised the present and previous governments for insufficient and ineffective attempts to tackle the problem.
Following a year-long inquiry, the AMRC has devised a list of 10 recommendations to stop the UK being the fat man of Europe.
These include taxes of 20 per cent on sugary drinks for at least a year, banning the advertising of foods high in saturated fat, sugar and salt before 9pm, and councils having the power to limit the number of fast-food outlets near schools and leisure centres.