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Health Experts Call For 20% Levy On Sugary Drinks In UK

Published on Nov 1 2013 9:45 AM in Drinks

Health Experts Call For 20% Levy On Sugary Drinks In UK

Just days after French parliamentarians voted to put a tax on sugary drinks, medical experts in the UK are calling on their government to enforce a 20% levy of their own.

A British Medical Journal research paper calculates that a 20% tax would reduce number of obese UK adults by 180,000, while at the same time collecting £276 million a year.

The researchers, from Oxford and Reading, say a tax set at 20%, which would put 12p on a 60p can of cola, would reduce the number of obese UK adults by 180,000, a fall of 1.3%. It would cut the numbers who are overweight by 285,000 or 0.9%.

They say it would mostly help reduce the number of those who are obese or overweight in the 16-29 age group, who are the biggest consumers of these drinks.

"This is important to communicate to both the public and policymakers, who see the tax as a blanket measure on obesity," write Adam Briggs from the British Heart Foundation health promotion research group at Oxford University and his colleagues.

The effect of the tax on obesity would not differ between richer and poorer sectors of society – even though obesity is greater in more deprived communities. "Taxation represents a measure to target population obesity, particularly among young people, but should not be seen as a panacea," they write.

Other countries, including Hungary, Finland and France as well as nearly half the states in the US, have introduced or increased taxes on sugar-sweetened drinks and yet there is still considerable debate about whether they are appropriate.

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