Sugary drinks tax ‘would stop millions becoming obese’

A 20% tax on sugary drinks in the UK would prevent 3.7 million people becoming obese over the next decade, a report predicts.

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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.

Their report said such a tax would also save the NHS £10m a year by 2025.

The government is considering the measure, but soft drinks companies say other options would be more effective.

People get between 12% and 15% of their energy from sugar, but official recommendations say it should be less than 5%.

The statisticians modeled the impact of the tax and predicted a 16% reduction in the number of cans of pop consumed.

Their figures were then adjusted to account for the food and drink people might turn to instead.

They concluded a tax would lead to people consuming on average 15 fewer calories per day.

While the difference sounds tiny, the model predicts a large impact on waistlines.

Currently, 29% of people are obese and trends suggest that figure will reach 34% in 2025.

Rather than reverse the obesity epidemic, the forecast predicts the tax would lead to obesity rates leveling off at around 29% – preventing 3.7 million people from becoming obese.

Alison Cox, from Cancer Research UK, said: “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, argued:

Countries which have introduced a tax on sugary drinks have not only reduced consumption, they have raised much-needed revenues for public health measures.

The report has come out as the government is preparing its obesity strategy, which is due in the next few weeks.

Read full story: Sugary drinks tax ‘would stop millions becoming obese’

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