Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has announced that he will implement a "sugar tax" on all sweetened beverages served in his restaurants as a form of protest against the government's refusal to introduce such a tax in the United Kingdom.
The Naked Chef host, who gained fame for introducing healthier versions of well-known recipes, said he will charge an additional 10 pence, or around 15 cents, for every sugary drink sold in his restaurants across the UK. The money collected through the sugar tax will be donated to fund better education regarding healthy eating.
As part of this endeavor, the Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group will provide £25,000 to initiate the program.
Oliver's goal is to raise public awareness on the health risks of sugar consumption, and to urge the British government to act on the issue of child obesity in the country.
"I've seen first-hand the heartbreaking effects that poor diet and too much sugar is having on our children's health and futures," Oliver said.
"Young children [need] multiple teeth pulled out under general anesthetic and one in three kids [is] now leaving primary school overweight or obese."
The celebrity chef added that soft drinks are the leading sources of sugar among school-age children and teens, and that something must be done about it.
In his own household, for example, Oliver said that his children mainly drink water or diluted fruit juice. He prefers preparing healthier drinks, such as placing freshly cut oranges, lemons and strawberries in a pitcher of iced water.
While the British government has refused to introduce a tax on soda drinks, such public health policies are starting to gain legitimacy in other countries.
The United States was the first government to start a soda tax when it introduced the policy in Berkeley, California.
Members of the beverage industry in the U.S. reportedly spent around $2.3 million to stop the implementation of the soda tax, but it ultimately failed. They were more successful in defeating a similar soda tax in San Francisco after spending more money in the effort.
The introduction of such legislation in Berkeley, however, is viewed as a landmark victory that could pave the way to the creation of additional soda taxes in other larger cities.
Experts believe introducing the soda tax on a national level could provide significant health gains, which could help prevent 8,000 cases of strokes, 100,000 cases of heart disease and even 26,000 deaths among Americans over the next decade.
Photo: Really Short | Flickr