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Chief Medical Officer Tells MPs They May Need a Sugar Tax

March 5, 2014

sugarWith food and drink manufacturers slow to change their products to meet the government’s responsibility deal, Chief Medical Officer for England Dame Sally Davies has told a Commons Select Committee that a ‘sugar tax’ maybe required.

The industry has promised to work towards reducing the amount of sugar in food products, but Dame Sally is concerned that it may prove too little too late: “We have normalised being overweight. I do fear this generation of children will live less than my parents’ generation.” Last month Shadow Health Minister Luciana Berger said that Labour would not introduce additional taxes on high sugar products if they were successful in the general election.

A recent poll in California revealed that two thirds of residents were in favour of introducing a tax on fizzy drinks, while 74% thought health warnings should be put on cans and bottles. In the UK, pressure group Action on Sugar was set up last year to raise awareness of the issue and campaign for a general reduction in refined added sugar intake to ensure it does not contribute more than 5% of total energy intake. Chairman Professor Graham MacGregor believes a significant reduction could easily to achieved by the industry. “Added sugar is an unnecessary source of calories with no nutritional benefit whatsoever,” he said. “The huge amounts that the food and drink industry add to our food can easily be reduced by 30-40% over the next four years.”