Britain launches soft drink sugar tax to fight obesity

August 23, 2016 in Food Companies, Manufacturing and Trends, Nutrition for Children and Teenagers, Nutrition Topics in the News, Weight Management

Britain launches soft drink sugar tax to fight obesity

Last week, Britain said it would tax companies which sell sugary soft drinks and invest that money in health programs for school children, part of a long-awaited strategy to curb childhood obesity that critics say is too weak.

Drinks companies were also angered by the plan which urges industry to cut sugar in products aimed at children, saying nearly a third of those aged 2 to 15 are already overweight or obese.

Campaigners and health experts, however, said the plan was weak.

Some medical experts said it was a poor response to Britain's obesity and diabetes crisis which.

In opting for a sugar tax, Britain joins Belgium, France, Hungary and Mexico, all of which have imposed some form of tax on drinks with added sugar. Scandinavian countries have levied similar taxes for many years.

Britain's plans will see a levy applied to drinks with a total sugar content above 5 grams per 100 ml (about one teaspoon in less than one-half cup), with a higher band for even more sugary drinks.

The government's health department says sugary drinks are the single biggest source of sugar for children, and a child can have more than their recommended daily intake just by drinking a can of cola which contains nine teaspoons of sugar.

It wants the industry to work towards a 20 percent cut in products popular with children, with 5 percent in the first year. Progress would be reviewed every six months by the government's health agency, Public Health England.

The soft drink industry said the levy would lead to thousands of job losses and, at the same time, fail to have a meaningful impact on levels of obesity.

The program the government intends to launch with funds raised from the sugar levy will focus on promoting healthy diets and physical activity in schoolchildren.

Primary schools would be asked to help students get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise every day. At least 30 minutes of this should be during school time.

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