Research conducted by two major health organisations suggests that introducing a tax on drinks containing a large amount of sugar would have a significant health benefit in Britain.
Based on a proposed 20% tax on sugary drinks, over 3.5 million people could be prevented from becoming obese over the next 10 years alone.
Cancer Research UK and the UK Health Forum worked out the likely impact of the tax on eating habits and, ultimately, the nation’s waistlines.
In addition to the health benefits of the introduction of a sugar tax, the NHS could also count the gains in potential savings as well.
The report suggests that a sugar tax would save the health service in the region of £100 million by 2025.
It must be emphasised that this is a rather paltry figure in comparison to the total NHS budget of nearly £1 trillion over the same period!
Nonetheless, it is clear that a sugar tax would have some benefits, but there is still a legitimate debate taking place on this subject.
The government continues to consider the potential impact of a sugar tax, but numerous groups oppose the introduction of such a measure.
In particular, libertarian groups suggest that it would be counter-productive and against freedom of choice, while soft drinks companies are also, predictably, of the opinion that other measures would be more effective.
UK residents derive between 12% and 15% of their energy from sugar on average, but official recommendations say it should be less than 5%.
Currently, 29% of the UK population are obese and trends suggest that figure will reach 34% in 2025.
In particular, men have a problem controlling their waistlines, and in some age groups as much as 80% of the male population of Britain is considered overweight.
Alison Cox, from Cancer Research UK, suggested that introducing a sugar tax could have a significant impact on the health of the nation.
“The ripple effect of a small tax on sugary drinks is enormous. These numbers make it clear why we need to act now before obesity becomes an even greater problem.”
And Jane Landon, from the UK Health Forum, was in agreement.
“Countries which have introduced a tax on sugary drinks have not only reduced consumption, they have raised much-needed revenues for public health measures.”
However, it is worth pointing out that, despite the arguments of Landon, Denmark introduced a sugar tax recently, which ultimately turned out to be completely ineffective, and the measure was ultimately scrapped.
Nonetheless, the debate about a proposed sugar tax continues, and it seems increasingly likely that the government could consider introducing one imminently.