Food and farming charity Sustain is calling for a new tax on sugary drinks with the proceeds going towards child health.
In a pre-budget report, the charity claims that the government could raise £1billion a year from a 20p a litre rise in tax on high-sugar drinks. It suggests this extra revenue could be used to pay for free school meals and initiatives encouraging children to eat more fruit and vegetables.
According to the report, the levy would also help save lives by cutting consumption of sugar-laden drinks, which has been backed by more than 60 organisations including the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, Friends of the Earth, the National Heart forum and the Royal Society for Public Health.
Sustain’s Campaign Manager Charlie Powell, said: “Sugar-laden drinks are mini health time bombs, contributing to dental diseases, obesity and a host of life-threatening illnesses which cost the NHS billions each year.
“We are delighted that so many organisations want to challenge the government to show it has a public health backbone, by including a sugary drinks duty in budget 2013.
“It’s a simple and easy-to-understand measure which will help save lives by reducing sugar in our diets and raising much-needed money to protect children’s health.”
The chairman of Sustain, Mike Rayner, of Oxford University’s department of public health, added: “Just as we use fiscal measures to discourage drinking and smoking and help prevent people from dying early, there is now lots of evidence that the same approach would work for food.
“Our obesity epidemic causes debilitating illness, life-threatening diseases and misery for millions of people. It is high time government did something effective about this problem.”
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