Tax on sugary drinks could raise £275m for Treasury

A tax on sugary drinks could help cut soaring rates of obesity and raise over £275m for the Treasury, according to research by Oxford and Reading universities.

Researchers said that a standard 500ml bottle of soft drink can contain as much as 14 teaspoons of sugar, or 210 calories.

They have warned that such drinks increase the risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and tooth decay, and that a tax could help reduce the number of obese adults by 180,000.

The research, published in the British Medical Journal, argues that a 20% tax on sugary drinks, adding around 12p to the price of a can, would reduce purchases by 15%, reducing the number of obese adults in the UK by 1.3% and the number of overweight adults by 0.9%.

But Gavin Partington, director general of the British Soft Drinks Association, said that there was plenty of evidence showing that soft drinks were not to blame for obesity.

He said: “There’s ample evidence to suggest that taxing soft drinks won’t curb obesity, not least because its causes are far more complex than this simplistic approach implies.

“Trying to blame one set of products is misguided, particularly when they comprise a mere 2% of calories in the average diet.”

Dr Adam Briggs of the British Heart Foundation health promotion research group at Oxford University, and one of the researchers, said: “Sugar-sweetened drinks are known to be bad for health and our research indicates that a 20% tax could result in a meaningful reduction in the number of obese adults in the UK.

“Such a tax is not going to solve obesity by itself, but we have shown it could be an effective public health measure and should be considered alongside other measures to tackle obesity in the UK.”

Readers' comments (1)

  • Anonymous

    High tax on tobacco products has long been a fact of life, so this proposal would make sense. Why not also put a small charge on all pricey takeaway and snack foods, to help pay for clearance of street litter caused by thoughtless disposal.

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