Sugar tax outlined in George Osborne’s budget welcomed by Scottish doctors
A £532m tax on sugar-sweetened soft drink announced by Chancellor George Osborne has been welcomed by doctors and health campaigners in Scotland.
The price of a can of heavily-sugared drinks will rise by around 8p under the plans, while drinks with 5-7g of sugar per 100ml will rise by around 6p.
Prime Minister David Cameron had ruled out the idea last October following calls from celebrity chef Jamie oliver. "There are more effective ways of tackling this issue than putting a tax on sugar,” he had said.
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Professor Derek Bell, President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh welcomed the surprise reversal as “one tool” in the fight against obesity.
“It must be looked at alongside a range of other preventative measures and educational tools to allow consumers to make healthier choices in the interests of their health.
“In the meantime, we must continue to address the many challenges of obesity and the impact they are having on the population’s health - and our health service - before the levy is introduced in 2018,” he said.
The BMA also backed the move. Baroness Shelia Hollins, BMA Board of Science Chair, said: “This is an important initiative that could help to begin to address the obesity crisis amongst young children, although the delay in introducing it for two years is disappointing.”
Scotland has a higher proportion of overweight and obese than in the other parts of the UK with two out of three Scottish adults being overweight or obese. Adults in Scotland get more than 14 per cent of their daily energy intake from sugar, three times the daily intake recommended by the World Health Organisation. The figure is greater for children in Scotland.
Obesity Action Scotland, based at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, said further bold action was needed to tackle the problem.
Programme lead Lorraine Tulloch said: “We hope this is the first of many bold and brave new initiatives to improve the diet of the people of Scotland. We must ensure the tax is stringent and effective and that the monies raised are invested in effective obesity prevention programmes in Scotland ”
Meanwhile Irn Bru makers Barr spoke out against the new tax. Chief executive Roger White said: "It is extremely disappointing that soft drinks have been singled out given it is the only food and drink category to have made any real progress in reducing sugar intake in recent years, down 13.6 per cent since 2012.”
The tax will be introduced in two years' time and will not apply to fruit juices or milkshakes.