British Medical Association proposes 20 per cent tax on sugary drinks

Doctors from the British Medical Association (BMA) are calling for a 20 per cent tax on sugar-sweetened drinks, which in turn will then pay for subsidies on fruit and vegetables, in order to combat obesity.

A report from the BMA to introduce the sugar tax as a “useful first step” demands regulatory action on a range of issues, including a clampdown on the marketing of unhealthy foods and drinks to children, as well as taxation.  

It is only a year since the last Government ruled out a “sugar tax” to tackle the sharp rise in obesity rate.  But, it is clear to Healthy Performance that the medical profession will not let this issue lie and it continues to press the case for a change and urge the new Government to take on the food industry.  

While the UK rates of obesity are certainly alarming, the evidence is by no means convincing that a sugar tax is the answer – and many studies have shown that price is not a deterrent to high sugar intake.

We cannot escape the fact, though, that poor diet costs the NHS an alarming £6 billion a year and has a greater impact on the service than alcohol consumption, smoking or physical inactivity. But using the blunt instrument of taxation isn’t necessarily going to change behaviour.

Education and labelling can be far more effective especially as a large part of the obesity problem is the “hidden sugar” in supposedly healthy food and drink. Hitting everyone with high prices to address an issue affecting a minority of people would be a drastic step for the Government to take. However, convincing those employees most at risk to think more carefully about their diet would surely leave everyone heathier and with an increased sense of wellbeing.