British lawmakers released a report on Monday, Nov. 30 urging the UK government to heighten up measures to tackle childhood obesity in the land. One of the most prominent recommendations made by the health committee is the call to put 20 percent tax on sugar-sweetened drinks.
Increasing obesity rates
Committee chairman Sarah Wollaston said that about one-third of children exiting primary school are considered overweight or obese. She added that children who are most deprived are twice as likely to reach obesity compared to the least deprived group.
To manage obesity effectively, the committee estimates that the government needs to shed about 5.1 billion pounds or $7.6 billion annually for health care.
"We call on the Government to work with the devolved administrations on the implementation of our recommendations, for the benefit of children across the UK," the authors wrote.
Aside from the 20 percent tax on sugar-sweetened drinks, the committee members also included other proposed interventions to help curb obesity.
Some of the other recommendations made include:
- Reducing promotions of unhealthy food
- Removing unhealthy food choices and confectionery from aisles and checkout counters
- Restricting advertisements of unhealthy food to children by moving all high-fat/ high-salt/ high-sugar food ads to after 9 pm
- Initiating a government-mandated sugar reformulation program and food portion size amendments
- Mandating food products to have sugar teaspoons as labels of sugar content, wherein one teaspoon is equivalent to four grams of sugar
Manufacturers of commercial drinks cannot help but criticize the report. For them, the legislators had gulped up the agenda of lobbyists.
"It's disappointing that the committee has missed its chance to add a robustly independent voice to the obesity debate," said Ian Wright from Britain's Food and Drink Federation.
Wright also commented that no one appears to have looked into the troubled consumers, who have already stashed billions to pay for taxes on food and drinks
Prime minister's call
British prime minister David Cameron does not think that tax on sugary drinks is the correct action to take, says a spokesperson for the leader. Cameron is set to launch a national childhood obesity program come New Year 2016 to presents his preferred strategies.
Photo: David Amsler | Flickr