Backing for sugar tax to beat obesity crisis

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Professor Simon Capewell warning the health risks of over-consuming sugary drinks. © University of Liverpool

Professor Simon Capewell warning the health risks of over-consuming sugary drinks. © University of Liverpool

A Liverpool professor favours a proposed sugar tax that could “prevent 3.7 million people being obese and could also save the NHS £10 million a year by 2025″, according to one report from Cancer Research UK.

According to the report’s findings, teenagers currently consume three times more sugar than the NHS recommendations. A survey conducted by YouGov discovered that 55% of the public agree on a sugar tax, with 36% opposing to the idea. A total of 1,774 adults were sampled within the survey.

Professor Simon Capewell, who works at the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, supports the idea of a 20% duty on sugar-sweetened beverages to be imposed by NHS England.

Professor Capewell told JMU Journalism: “I think this is an important study, sending a powerful message to the government. Currently there is a tax on sugary drinks implemented around the world in the likes of Hungary, Mexico, France and Finland.

It would most certainly work within the United Kingdom. The British government has a pressing duty to protect our kids now, and in the future.”

Professor Capewell, who is also the policy Vice-President for the UK Faculty of Public Health, and a trustee for the UK Health Forum for Heart of Mersey, said: “What is needed is a governmental comprehensive strategy to prevent obesity for children and adults. This would require a powerful package of interventions to reformulate.”

The report, released on Friday, includes additional research from the UK Health Forum, together highlighting that obesity in Britain is the biggest single preventable cause of cancer after smoking.

Shelves stacked of sugary drinks. Pic by Emily Lewis © JMU Journalism

Shelves stacked of sugary drinks. Pic by Emily Lewis © JMU Journalism

An unhealthy lifestyle could cause 10 types of cancer, including two of the most common; bowel and breast cancer. If these lifestyle trends were to continue, the report warned that obesity could cause almost 670,000 new cases of cancer over the next 20 years.

The University of Liverpool Clinical Epidemiology lecturer highlighted that the government could create this strategy in fighting obesity by reducing cheap price promotions on junk food and sugary drinks and a decline in their marketing campaigns towards children and adults.

Professor Capewell added: “Other strategies should include a progressive reduction of the amount of sugar hidden within junk food and sugary drinks. Smaller portion sizes, clearer labelling, including a picture of how many teaspoons of sugar are hidden in each item, and lastly, more physical activity.”

About Tiernan McGee, JMU Journalism