Health group calls for 'sugar tax' to cut child obesity

Sugar cubes in a bowl Action on Sugar has produced a seven-point plan to cut child obesity

Related Stories

A "sugar tax" should be introduced by the UK government to help curb obesity in childhood, a campaign group says.

Action on Sugar has produced a seven-point plan to discourage children from consuming foods and soft drinks with high levels of added sugar.

The group wants measures brought in to cut added sugar in food by 40% by 2020, to cut fat in foods and to ban sports sponsorship by "junk food" companies.

The Department of Health has said it will consider the recommendations.

Action on Sugar is a group of specialists concerned with sugar and its effects on health. It says one in five 10 to 11-year-olds in the UK are now obese, while one in three are overweight.

The group has produced an action plan for the government following a request for its views from Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

The seven proposed measures are:

  • Reduce added sugars in food by 40% by 2020
  • Ban all forms of targeted marketing of ultra-processed, unhealthy foods and drinks to children
  • Disassociate physical activity with obesity by banning junk food sports sponsorships
  • Reduce fat by 15% in ultra-processed foods by 2020
  • Limit the availability of ultra-processed foods and sweetened soft drinks as well as reducing portion sizes
  • Introduce a sugar tax to incentivise healthier food

The group's chairman, Prof Graham MacGregor, said current policies were not working and that obesity could be prevented if "the food environment is changed".

"The UK requires the implementation of this coherent strategy, starting by setting incremental sugar reduction targets for soft drinks this summer. No delays, no excuses," Prof MacGregor said.

Dr Aseem Malhotra, cardiologist and science director of Action on Sugar, said it was "really quite shameful that the food industry continues to spend billions in junk food advertising targeting children".

"It's time to bust the myth of physical activity and obesity and dissociate junk food and sport," he added.

A Department of Health spokesman said: "We know some people eat too many calories including sugar. Childhood obesity is at its lowest since 1998 but more should be done.

"Next week we will get expert scientific advice on sugar which will help shape future thinking. We will consider these recommendations as part of this."

Earlier this year Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer for England, said a sugar tax may have to be introduced to curb obesity rates.

She told a committee of MPs that she believed "research will find sugar is addictive", and that "we may need to introduce a sugar tax".


More on This Story

Related Stories


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 578.

    For all those blaming the parents for feeding their children sweet things - you try and find foodstuffs that do not contain sugar! I had my eyes opened when my elderly Mom developed diabetes and I took to looking more closely at the food labels. It's frightening.

  • rate this

    Comment number 513.

    Shouldn't it be the parents responsibility to what their child eats? Parents need to be stricter with their children on what they eat, you need to take responsibility for your child, you chose to give them fast food a lot expect them to become obese don't punish the rest of us because of it. I don't want a tax due to something that isn't my fault. Sugar shouldn't be controlled.

  • rate this

    Comment number 450.

    As a society we eat far too much processed food and sugar. If you walk around a supermarket and think how many food items did not exist 100 years ago it makes you wonder. We don't need sugar in our diets. Sugar in the form of fruit/honey is natural unlike refined sugar which has no nutritional value. Unfortunately, the sugar industry is worth billions.

  • rate this

    Comment number 384.

    Leave us alone. Stop inventing taxes and telling us what to do.

  • rate this

    Comment number 314.

    tax sugar and remove the problem? wont work at all as the cost of food stuff will rise beyond what the ordinary person will tolerate.
    Also if sugar is taxed and consumtion rates drop , the manufactuers will replace sugar with even more harmfull synthetic sweetners or highly processed derivatives.
    the only way to deal with this is to let the public see the truth about sugars and sweetners ,


Comments 5 of 11


More Health stories



Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.